April Retail Sales

Retail Sales were rather unimpressive: Gasoline, Groceries, Food & Beverage were up, while pretty much everything else was flat to down. 

If you want to get rid of the Easter factor, compare March/April 2007 with March/April 2008.

Perhaps some chart porn might be instructive:

click for larger charts

Retail Sales vs. March CPI

(sales versus inflation)


courtesy of Jake

Retail Sales vs. Consumer Discretionary Sector

courtesy of Bespoke Group


Retail Sales Versus Past Recessions
courtesy of CEO Economic Update

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Douglas Watts commented on May 13

    Barry, if you want a nice economic indicator, look at the exploding number of regular people who are bringing all of their scrap steel, esp. cars and trucks, to steel recyclers for cash. I have a non-operating 1994 Ford Taurus in my yard and this week have had 3 different people stop and ask if I want it — they want to sell it to scrap dealers for $250 per ton. Check it out …


  2. donna commented on May 13

    I have a neighbor picking up my recycling now to take in for cash. I don’t mind since it’s a small way to help him out. Sad….

  3. michael schumacher commented on May 13

    heard on the radio here this morning….

    Get ready for the newest wave of crime

    Apparently the newest thing is to take that gas guzzling SUV (report it stolen) out to the desert and torch it for the insurance money.

    Can’t say that I’ve seen any evidence of it.

    Sounds like another attempt to paint the consumer at fault….again.


  4. skeptical commented on May 13

    I’d like to discuss the bottoming of the dollar.

    I’m currently hedged heavily into Swiss Francs (FXF ETF, to be exact) which has done very well, but I don’t want to watch those gains evaporate (and perhaps turn negative) if I don’t time the dollar bottoming accurately.

    So with that in mind, take a look at the report – specifically:

    “Filling station sales also dropped, even as gasoline prices surged. The 0.4 percent decrease last month followed a 1.6 percent gain in March.”

    ( http://bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=awfavPMubLK4&refer=home )

    So even with the big uptick in prices, total sales were down … so people are really cutting back on fuel.

    Are we at the point where (lack of) consumer demand takes hold and oil finally drops ? If so, does that necessarily imply a dollar strengthening, or can the dollar remain weak even if oil drops back to $80-100 ?

    In a bigger picture sense, are we near the inflection point where the money pumping stops and we switch from inflation to deflation as the rate cuts end and we’re all left high and dry with no money to support assets ?

  5. VennData commented on May 13

    I’ve been noticing a new talking point: The “housing decline” actually started in 2005 (even though “they” were uber-bulls back then.) This lets “them” suss out some “three year average house price trough” from historical data to bolt into on to any PR set piece – say on the WSJ opinion page – calling the RE bottom.

    Soon, watch for “them” to say the recession started in 2007 – even though “they” couldn’t even say the ‘R’ word back then – using the same formula (plugging in the ‘average recession lasts eight months’) to coincide with whenever, where ever “they’re” calling that bottom.

    Hey, I got an idea: “Gas prices always spike up before a recovery since people are driving around getting jobs and buying stuff.” Hey, maybe “they’ll” hire me (soul for sale, cheap.)

  6. gianluca carrera commented on May 13

    looking at the chart looks like gasoline and food raised only because prices raised… and probaably not even by the same amount… does it make sense?

  7. Douglas Watts commented on May 13

    Here’s another economic indicator worth following: the explosion of highly organized scrap metal theft squads. The old high school across the street from me is now being demolished and I have discovered that when the moon comes out, it is being “visited” each night by a very well-organized and professional group of independent copper and steel ‘salvage experts.’ It is fascinating to watch the State of Maine turn into a cross between Belarus and a Mad Max movie.

  8. Michael Donnelly commented on May 13

    Silly boy, the only thing that matters is retail ex: whatever is going down

    On a morning conference call today I was told the retail report was great as the important number was up 0.5%. That’d be retail ex: vehicles of course.

  9. michael schumacher commented on May 13


    that would fit neatly into the five stages syndrome…….except they are trying to get us from 1 to 5, with five being acceptance that it is over.

    Just like J. Daimon’s “comments” yesterday that the “credit problem” is 75% over. That would take us to what major event???


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