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