Retail Sales: April Increase, But Below Expectations

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for April released this morning showed an increase over the March figures. Headline sales came in at 0.4% month-over-month to one decimal and the March number was revised upward from -0.2% to 0.1%. Today's headline number was below the consensus of 0.6%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.3% MoM and the March Core was revised upward.

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $474.9 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 4.5 percent (±0.9 percent) above April 2016. Total sales for the February 2017 through April 2017 period were up 4.7 percent (±0.7 percent) from the same period a year ago. The February 2017 to March 2017 percent change was revised from down 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.1 percent (±0.2 percent)*.

Retail trade sales were up 0.4 percent (±0.5 percent)* from March 2017, and up 4.5 percent (±0.7 percent) from last year. Gasoline Stations sales were up 12.3 percent (±1.4 percent) from April 2016, while Nonstore Retailers were up 11.9 percent (±1.8 percent) from last year.

(* The 90 percent confidence interval includes zero. There is insufficient statistical evidence to conclude that the actual change is different from zero.) [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