Retail Sales: February Sales Show Renewed Weakness
The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report released this morning showed that seasonally adjusted sales in February contracted month-over-month and the previous month was revised downward. Headline sales decreased 0.1% MoM, which was less than the -0.2% Investing.com forecast, but January was revised downward rather dramatically from 0.2% to -0.4%. Headline sales are up 3.4% year-over-year. Core Retail Sales (ex Autos) also decreased 0.1% MoM from a downwardly revised January -0.4%, initially reported at a 0.1% increase.
The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.
The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.
Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.
Retail Sales: "Control" Purchases
The next two charts illustrate retail sales "Control" purchases, which is an even more "Core" view of retail sales. This series excludes Motor Vehicles & Parts, Gasoline, Building Materials as well as Food Services & Drinking Places.
Here is the same series year-over-year. Note that the current level is below the highlighted values at the start of the two recessions since the inception of this series in the early 1990s.
For a better sense of the reduced volatility of the "Control" series, here is a YoY overlay with the headline retail sales.
Bottom Line: The February sales and downward revisions to the previous month is a harsh reminder of the ongoing weakness of the US economy.