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Retail Sales: Positive Revisions Buoy Trend

May 15, 2018
Bottom Line: While core retail sales missed expectations for April, positive revisions to both March and February sales more than made up for this miss, keeping the trend modestly upward and suggesting the potential for upward revisions to 1st Quarter GDP (the second estimate is due May 30th). At the sector level nonstore retailers, now nearly 25% of core sales, have seen a modest deceleration in sales, while home furnishings retailers have seen a sharp acceleration in sales over the last three months. Overall the trend remains modest to moderate -- and with the revisions the hints of slowing momentum we had started to see are now nearly gone.

Retail Sales ROSE by 0.3% in April, compared with the market consensus for an increase of 0.3%. The March estimate was revised from 0.56% to 0.75%. Retail sales are now 4.7% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 4.6%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers climbed by 0.1%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 0.3%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.5%. But the March estimate was revised from 0.19% to 0.41%. Core retail sales are now 4.8% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 4.6%.

  • In April, gains at nonstore retailers (+0.6%),
  • gasoline stations, primarily due to high gasoline prices (+0.8%),
  • clothing stores (+1.4%),
  • grocery stores (+0.4%).
  • were partially offset by declines in health and personal care (-0.4%); and,
  • electronic and appliance stores (-0.1%).

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.30% and are now 4.0% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 3.9%.