May Retail Sales: Down 0.3% MoM, Below Expectations

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

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $473.8 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 3.8 percent (±0.9 percent) above May 2016. Total sales for the March 2017 through May 2017 period were up 4.4 percent (±0.7 percent) from the same period a year ago. The March 2017 to April 2017 percent change was unrevised at 0.4 percent (±0.1 percent).

Retail trade sales were down 0.3 percent (±0.5 percent)* from April 2017, and up 4.0 percent (±0.7 percent) from last year. Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers were up 10.8 percent (±1.8 percent) from May 2016, while Nonstore Retailers were up 10.2 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