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Retail Sales: Modest Deceleration, Touch Stronger Than Expected

November 15, 2017
Bottom Line: The pace of retail spending slowed modestly in October but gains in September were revised higher as auto sales and other hurricane-related activity was even stronger than previously estimated. Overall there has been very little change in the trend - Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline are now 3.9% above their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 3.8%.

Retail Sales ROSE by 0.2% in October, compared with the market consensus for no change. The September estimate was revised from 1.56% to 1.87%. Retail sales are now 4.6% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 3.7%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers climbed by 0.7%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 0.1%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.2%. The September estimate was revised from 1.05% to 1.17%. Core retail sales are now 4.3% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 3.6%.

In October, gains at:
  • grocery stores (+0.7%),
  • health and personal care (+0.8%),
  • clothing stores (+0.8%),
  • sporting goods, hobbies, etc. (+1.5%).

were partially offset by declines in:

  • gasoline stations, primarily due to low gasoline prices (-1.2%),
  • building materials (-1.2%),
  • nonstore retailers (-0.3%),
  • general merchandise stores (0.0%).

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.26% and are now 3.9% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 3.8%