Keeping you up to date on the latest data releases.
- Retail Sales
Total retail sales increased 0.5 percent in December, following a 0.4 percent increase in November. A significant chunk of that growth over the past two months has been driven by autos sales. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.3 percent in December and fell 0.1 percent in November. Still, over the past 12 months, the growth rate in overall sales (up 4.7 percent) is outpacing the ex-autos trend (4.1 percent). Elsewhere, sales growth was evident across nearly all broad categories. The two exceptions are sales at gasoline stations (down 1.6 percent and likely price-related), and a 0.6 percent decline in sales at electronics and appliance stores. However, the decline in electronics and appliance store sales comes on the heels of a sharp 2.3 percent gain in November and is probably more a signal of unusual holiday shopping patterns than anything else. A less volatile indicator of sales strength, “core” retail sales (which excludes sales of autos, building supplies, and gas stations) jumped up 0.6 percent in December, following a similarly strong 0.5 percent increase in November. The recent strength in the near-term growth trajectory in core sales is evident in its three-month annualized growth rate, which has improved from 2.0 percent back in August to 4.3 percent as of December. This reversal of some mid-year weakness has help bring the near-term trajectory back in line with its 12-month growth rate of 4.5 percent, in and of itself, a sign of continued momentum.