Retail Sales Growth Improves In January 2019

Retail sales were improved according to US Census headline data. But last month's data was revised downward.

Analyst Opinion of Retail Sales

There was a significant downward adjustment of last month's already poor data. The real test of strength is the rolling averages which declined.

Things to consider when viewing this data:

  • it is not inflation adjusted.
  • the three-month rolling averages of the unadjusted data declined.

The year-over-year growth rate for retail sales and retail employment have diverged.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Backward data revisions were upward.

Econintersect Analysis:

  • unadjusted sales rate of growth accelerated by 2.0 % month-over-month, and up2.6 % year-over-year.
  • unadjusted sales 3-month rolling year-over-year average growth decelerated 1.2 % month-over-month, up 2.7 % year-over-year.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

  • unadjusted sales (but inflation adjusted) up 1.9 % year-over-year
  • this is an advance report. Please see caveats section below which shows variations between the advance report and the "final".
  • in the seasonally adjusted data - the strength was widespread except for clothing, autos, electronics, gas stations and furniture.

U.S. Census Headlines:

  • seasonally adjusted sales up 0.2 % month-over-month, up 2.3 % year-over-year (published up 2.3 % YoY last month).
  • the market was expecting (from Econoday):
seasonally adjusted Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Retail Sales - M/M change -0.4 % to 0.5 % +0.0 % +0.2 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change +0.0 % to 0.9 % +0.2 % +0.9 %
Less Autos & Gas - M/M Change 0.2 % to 1.2 % +0.5 % +1.2 %
Control Group - M/M change 0.2 % to 0.7 % +0.7 % +1.1 %

Year-over-Year Change - Unadjusted Retail Sales (blue line) and Inflation Adjusted Retail Sales (red line)

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