Retail Sales: January Growth Continues to Improve

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for January released this morning showed continued growth improvement over the December increase. Headline sales came in at 0.4% month-over-month to one decimal, and the December number was revised upward from 0.6% to 1.0%. Today's headline number was above the consensus of 0.1%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.7% MoM, which was above the consensus of 0.3% and the December Core was revised upward.

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $472.1 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 5.6 percent (±0.9 percent) above January 2016. Total sales for the November 2016 through January 2017 period were up 4.6 percent (±0.7 percent) from the same period a year ago. The November 2016 to December 2016 percent change was revised from up 0.6 percent (±0.5 percent) to up 1.0 percent (±0.2 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* from December 2016, and up 5.6 percent (±0.7 percent) from last year. Gasoline Stations sales were up 14.2 percent (±1.4 percent) from January 2016, while Nonstore Retailers were up 12.0 percent (±1.8 percent) from last year. [view full report]

The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.

Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

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

Core Retail Sales YoY