Real Retail sales dropped in March, driven lower primarily by durable goods and automobiles.
Nominal sales — non-inflation adjusted retail sales — surprised to the upside. The 0.2% gains were due mostly to increases in essentials — food, gasoline, and heating oil. Sales at Gasoline
store were up 1.1 %, while food & beverage stores up 0.4%; nonstore retailers (home heating oil) was also strong. Outside of these basics, Consumer spending was less strong. Declines were in
building materials (down 1.6%), and general merchandise (down 0.6%).
On a year-on-year basis, March Retail sales softened to +2.0% from +2.9% last month.
Bottom line: What little strength we saw last month was narrowly based, and due due to higher prices. In real terms,
sales were negative. The impact of Retail Sales on Q1 GDP will be to pull it down further.
chart courtesy of Barron’s Econoday
ADVANCE MONTHLY SALES FOR RETAIL TRADE AND FOOD SERVICES FOR MARCH 2008
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2008, AT 8:30 A.M. EDT
ADVANCE MONTHLY SALES FOR RETAIL AND FOOD SERVICES 4.14.08 .pdf
April 14 Release
U.S. Retail Sales Rise on Gain in Gasoline Purchases
Bloomberg, April 14 2008