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Retail Sales: Solid Post-Holiday Gains

February 15, 2017
Bottom Line: With strong upward revisions to December data and solid gains in January, retail sales excluding gasoline are up 4.4% over the last 12 months, compared to 3.2% for all of 2016 and 4.2% in 2015. The nonstore retail sector continues to show the strongest gains outside of gasoline, looking at the last 3 months, while Building materials and garden supplies have seen the sharpest acceleration in growth. Overall Core Sales ex-gasoline stations and ex-building materials during January were modestly above its Q4 average, suggesting that real consumer spending will continue to add positively to Q1 GDP.

Retail Sales ROSE by 0.4% in January, compared with the market consensus for an increase of 0.1%. The December estimate was revised from 0.6% to 1.0%. Retail sales are now 5.6% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 2.6%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers fell by 1.4%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 0.8%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.4%. The December estimate was revised from 0.2% to 0.4%. Core retail sales are now 5.3% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 2.3%.

In January, gains at gasoline stations, primarily due to high gasoline prices (+2.3%), general merchandise stores (+0.9%), grocery stores (+0.4%), clothing stores (+1.0%). were partially offset by declines in miscellaneous retailers (-0.2%).

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.7% and are now 4.4% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 3.4% .