October Retail Sales: A Welcome Bounce from the September Dip

November 14, 2014

by Doug Short

The Advance Retail Sales Report released this morning shows that sales in October came in at 0.3% (0.34% at two decimals) month-over-month, up from -0.3% in September. Core Retail Sales (ex Autos) were at 0.3%, up from -0.02% (at two decimals) in September.

Today's numbers came in above the Investing.com forecast of 0.2% for both Headline and Core Sales.

The two charts below are log-scale snapshots of retail sales since the early 1990s. Both include an inset to show the trend over the past 12 months. The one on the left illustrates the "Headline" number. On the right is the "Core" version, which excludes motor vehicles and parts (commonly referred to as "ex autos"). Click on either thumbnail for a larger version.

Click to View

Click to View

The year-over-year percent change provides a better idea of trends. Here is the headline series.

Click to View
Click for a larger image

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

Click to View
Click for a larger image


Retail Sales: "Control" Purchases

The next chart illustrates retail sales "Control" purchases, which is an even more "Core" view of retail sales. This series excludes Motor Vehicles & Parts, Gasoline, Building Materials as well as Food Services & Drinking Places. I've highlighted the values at the start of the two recessions since the inception of this series in the early 1990s.

Click to View
Click for a larger image

For a better sense of the reduced volatility of the "Control" series, here is a YoY overlay with the headline retail sales.

Click to View
Click for a larger image


Real Retail Sales: A Preliminary Estimate

After the Consumer Price Index for October is released next week, we'll have a more detailed look at retail sales adjusted both for inflation and population growth. A preliminary estimate of real sales, based on an extrapolation for the seasonally adjusted CPI, is a month-over-month rise of 0.2%, which would put the YoY growth in the vicinity of 2.4%.

Bottom Line: The Advance Retail Sales for October, both headline and core, were above most economists' expectations, bouncing back from the September dip. However, the Advance numbers are subject to substantial revisions, as I've illustrated here.

Website by the Boston Web Company