Shoppers Pull The Plug On Spending At The Start Of The Holiday Season

Retail sales badly missed expectations in November as COVID impacted spending.

Advance Retail Sales Unexpectedly Decline 1.1% 

The Commerce Department Advance Retail Sales Report shows a 1.1%. decline in November vs an Econoday consensus estimate of -0.3%.

Commerce Details

  • Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November 2020, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $546.5 billion, a decrease of 1.1 percent from the previous month, but 4.1 percent above November 2019. 
  • Total sales for the September 2020 through November 2020 period were up 5.2 percent from the same period a year ago. 
  • The September 2020 to October 2020 percent change was revised from up 0.3 percent to down 0.1 percent. 
  • Retail trade sales were down 0.8 percent from October 2020, but 7.1 percent above last year. 
  • Nonstore retailers were up 29.2 percent from November 2019, while food services and drinking places were down 17.2 percent from last year.

Worse Than it Looks

The decline is even worse than it looks because the Commerce Department revised October from +0.3% to -0.1%.

Advance Retail Sales Detail

advance retail sales total detail 2020-11

Total spending nearly recovered by June. Select categories better reflect the winners and losers.

Advance Retail Sales Select Categories 

Advance Retail Sales Select Categories 2020-11

Advance Retail Sales Select Categories Detail 

Advance Retail Sales Select Categories Detail 2020-11

It's easy to spot the winners and losers. 

Food services and drinking places, gas stations, and department stores did not recover.

Those with a job and those with assets fueled a big recovery in motor vehicles and parts. 

These stats bode ill for department stores dependent on holiday shopping.

Disclaimer: The content on Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis site is provided as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. All site content, including ...

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