Retail Sales Growth Marginally Improves In November 2018?

Retail sales were slightly up according to US Census headline data. The unadjusted rolling averages rate of growth declined.

Analyst Opinion of Retail Sales

There was upward adjustment of last month's 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.
  • still, our analysis says this months' year-over-year growth was about average for the growth seen since the Great Recession.

The year-over-year growth rate in inflation-adjusted retail sales and retail employment have diverged.


Backward data revisions were upward.

Econintersect Analysis:

  • unadjusted sales rate of growth decelerated 1.3 % month-over-month, and up4.9 % year-over-year.
  • unadjusted sales 3 month rolling year-over-year average growth decelerated 0.6 % month-over-month, up 4.4 % year-over-year.


  • unadjusted sales (but inflation adjusted) up 3.2 % year-over-year
  • this is an advance report. Please see caveats below-showing variations between the advance report and the "final".
  • in the seasonally adjusted data - the major strengths were non-store retailers and electronics.

U.S. Census Headlines:

  • seasonally adjusted sales up 0.2 % month-over-month, up 4.2 % year-over-year (published up 4.6 % YoY last month).
  • the market was expecting (from Econoday):
seasonally adjusted Consensus Range Consensus Actual
Retail Sales - M/M change -0.1 % to +0.4 % +0.1 % +0.2 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change -0.1 % to +0.9 % +0.2 % +0.2 %
Less Autos & Gas - M/M Change +0.3 % to +0.6 % +0.4 % +0.5 %
Control Group - M/M change +0.3 % to +0.5 % +0.4 % +0.9 %

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

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Gary Anderson 10 months ago Contributor's comment

Considering prices are at rock bottom, this is pretty dismal. Great article.

Steven Hansen 10 months ago Author's comment

thank you Gary