Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
- Retail Sales
Retail sales slipped down 0.2 percent in May, following a sizeable downward revision to April’s estimate (from a 0.1 percent gain to a 0.2 percent decline). The recent weakness has pulled the series’ 3-month annualized growth rate down to −0.1 percent (it’s first dip into negative territory since November 2009), and well below its 12-month growth rate of 5.3 percent. Interestingly, auto sales continued to prop up the headline in May, jumping up 1.0 percent and surprising consensus expectations of a decrease in the sector. Over the past 12 months, auto sales are up 11.0 percent. Excluding autos, retail sales fell 0.4 percent in May following a 0.3 percent decline in April, leaving the series’ 12 month growth rate at 4.3 percent, down 2.5 percentage points since February. Cross-category sales performance was mixed (with a downside tilt) in May, with 5 of the 13 broad sectors posting declines. It’s very likely the some of the recent weakness is price related, as sales at gasoline stations have fallen sharply over the past two months on declining prices at the pump. “Core” retail sales—a cleaner measure of consumer spending trajectory—which excludes autos, building supplies, and gas stations was flat in May and has been trending down since the beginning of the year. While the year-over-year growth rate in core sales is still up 4.8 percent, its near term (3-month annualized) trend has fallen from 8.1 percent through the first 3 months of the year to its slowest growth rate since July 2010.