January Retail Sales: Up 0.2% MoM

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for January was released Monday morning. Headline sales came in at 0.2% month-over-month to one decimal and was better than the Investing.com forecast of 0.0%.Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.90% MoM (to two decimals).

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January 2019, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $504.4 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 2.3 percent (±0.7 percent) above January 2018. Total sales for the November 2018 through January 2019 period were up 2.6 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The November 2018 to December 2018 percent change was revised from down 1.2 percent (±0.5 percent) to down 1.6 percent (±0.3 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* from December 2018, and 1.9 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 8.7 percent (±2.3 percent) from January 2018, while nonstore retailers were up 7.3 percent (±2.1 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.

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Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

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Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

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Core Retail Sales YoY

"Control" Purchases

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.

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