The Census Bureau’s Advance Retail Sales Report for October was released this morning.
Headline sales came in at 0.8% month-over-month to one decimal and was better than the Investing.com forecast of 0.6%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.67% MoM (to two decimals). Revisions were made to the last two months.
Here is the introduction from today’s report:
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October 2018, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $511.5 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 4.6 percent (±0.5 percent) above October 2017. Total sales for the August 2018 through October 2018 period were up 5.0 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The August 2018 to September 2018 percent change was revised from up 0.1 percent (±0.5 percent)* to down 0.1 percent (±0.2 percent)*
Retail trade sales were up 0.9 percent (±0.5 percent) from September 2018, and 4.3 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Gasoline Stations were up 16.2 percent (±1.6 percent) from October 2017, while Nonstore Retailers were also up 12.1 percent (±1.4 percent) from last year. [view full report]
The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales (NYSEARCA:XLY)since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.
The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.
Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.
The next two charts illustrate 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. The popular financial press typically ignores this series, but it a more consistent and reliable reading of the economy.
Here is the same series year-over-year. Note that the current level is above both highlighted values at the start of recessions since the inception of this series in the early 1990s.
For a better sense of the reduced volatility(NYSEARCA:VXX) of the “Control” series, here is a YoY overlay with the headline retail sales.
Bottom Line: October sales showed an increase month over month and beat forecasts. When FRED publishes their data, we’ll take a closer look at Real Retail Sales.