November Retail Sales

According to the Census Bureau, retail sales managed to improve in November, although they were not as strong as many were hoping for.  The good news in this month’s reports came from revisions of the October and September readings as each of the prior two months were stronger than originally counted.  As time goes on the Census Bureau is able to collect more information from surveys turned in late, so the possibility of higher revision for November will count as a tarnished silver lining for now.

The headline figure grew 0.2 percent from the previous month and 6.7 percent year-over-year.  Motor vehicles and auto-related products make up a considerable amount of retail sales but can be volatile month to month.  Therefore, retail sales excluding the automotive component might reveal something the headline number masks.  Unfortunately for November, the headline was not hiding any positive secrets.  The growth rate was identical to the headline number.  Consumers did buy more electronics (‘tis the season) and spent more at food & beverage stores but less at restaurants.   Since they stayed home to eat, Americans were able to spend less on gas as well.  The change in weather may have prompted the additional clothing purchases, but for it being the flu season, Americans managed to spend at health and personal care stores.

The economy continues to grow as illustrated by the retail sales figures. The pace is not white hot as the country needs, but as our slow recovery gets long in the tooth, Atlas will not look this gift horse in the mouth.  The figure was positive, so we are begrudgingly positive too.  It’s just worth mentioning that when the economy grows at a glacial pace, it is more susceptible to catching a cold, and there is not a health and personal care store with remedies to cure that type of illness.   (by Christopher Cox)