September 2018 Headline Wholesale Sales Little Changed

The headlines say wholesale sales unchanged month-over-month with inventory levels very elevated. Our analysis shows improvement in the rate of growth for the rolling averages.


Analyst Opinion of this month's Wholesale Sales

Overall, the rolling averages tell the real story - and they improved this month. This sector's growth remains in a long term downtrend. The rolling averages are in expansion this month - but if one adjusts for inflation, this series is in contraction.

Inventory levels this month remain at recessionary levels.

To add to the confusion, year-over-year employment changes and sales growth do not match.


Note that Econintersect analysis is based on the change from one year ago. Econintersect Analysis:

  • the unadjusted sales rate of growth accelerated by 5.0 % month-over-month.
  • unadjusted sales year-over-year growth is up 1.8 % year-over-year (it was down 3.1 % YoY last month)
  • unadjusted sales (but inflation-adjusted) down 3.0 % year-over-year
  • the 3 month rolling average of unadjusted sales accelerated 1.5 % month-over-month, and up 0.4 % year-over-year.


  • unadjusted inventories up 4.9 % year-over-year (decelerated 1.4 % month-over-month), the unadjusted inventory-to-sales ratio is 1.35 which is at recessionary levels.

US Census Headlines based on seasonally adjusted data:

  • sales unchanged month-over-month,down 0.6 % year-over-year (it was reported sales -0,7 % last month YoY)
  • inventories up 0.4 % month-over-month - up 4.8 % year-over-year,
  • inventory-to-sales ratios were 1.29 one year ago - and are now 1.36
  • expectations for inventory growth from Econoday was -0.3 % to 0.2 % (consensus -0.1 %).


Wholesale sales were at record highs for almost two years - until 2015 where they contracted year-over-year - this contraction ended in 2017. This month sales significantly slowed.

Seasonally Adjusted Inventory-to-Sales Ratio

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