The King Report: No, Retail Sales Did Not Improve in November




How can US beancounters report twice the expected retail sales when all private data and state tax data shows that November had tepid if not soft retail sales – even with the easy y/y comparisons?

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2009, AT 8:30 A.M. EST

November 2009

Special Notice – The advance estimates in this report are the first estimates from a new sample. The new sample for the Advance Monthly Retail Trade Survey is selected about once every two and a half years. For further information on the sample revision, see our website at

Did any pundit or guru actually read the Advance Retail Sales report? This first paragraph in the report warns that a ‘new sample’ technique has been employed.

Ergo, comparisons are futile at this point.

How about this warning from the Census Department about their ‘estimates’: The margin of sampling error, as used on page 1, gives a range about the estimate which is a 90 percent confidence interval. If, for example, the percent change estimate is +1.2 percent and its estimated standard error is 0.9 percent, then the margin of sampling error is ±1.65 x 0.9 percent or ±1.5 percent, and the 90 percent confidence interval is –0.3 percent to +2.7 percent…

Nonsampling error encompasses all other factors that contribute to the total error of a sample survey estimate. This type of error can occur because of nonresponse, insufficient coverage of the universe of retail businesses, mistakes in the recording and coding of data, and other errors of collection, response, coverage, or processing. Although nonsampling error is not measured directly, the Census Bureau employs quality control procedures throughout the process to minimize this type of error.

We must interject once again that in a severe economic downturn numerous firms disappear, and this perverts sampling and surveying.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $352.1 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month and 1.9 percent (±0.5%) above November 2008. Total sales for the September through November 2009 period were down 2.1 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago. The September to October 2009 percent change was revised from +1.4 percent (±0.5%) to +1.1 percent (±0.2%).

Please note that the retail sales are seasonally adjusted for holiday and trading-day – even though every November contains the exact 30 days with 1 Thanksgiving and retailers are open every day!!!

But the US beancounters do NOT adjust for prices; so the huge consumer electronic discounting is apparently ignored!!! And people keep trading off this data!?!?!

From Friday’s King Report: Reuters: Sales of video game equipment and software in the United States fell 7.6 percent in November to $2.7 billion, research group NPD said on Thursday, as the struggling industry limped into the crucial holiday sales period. Hardware sales fell 13.4 percent, while software sales dropped 3.1 percent. The results were worse than some analysts had expected. “This should not be viewed as a healthy start to the holiday season,” EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich said in a research note.

On Friday, the US Commerce Department report Advance Retail Sales of 1.3%, more than double the expected 0.6%. Sales of electronics jumped 2.8%…Shoppertrak on 12/9 said US retail foot traffic fell 6.1% y/y in November…It’s ‘national retail sales’ estimate decline 0.1% y/y for November.

The International Council of Shopping Centers reported that major chain stores posted a 0.3% decline in sales for November, with 4/5 of retailers missing expectations.

The NY Times on December 3: Retail Sales in November Fell Short of Forecasts

Bloomberg News on December 3: Saks, Macy’s November Sales Miss Analysts’ Estimates Retail Metrics said U.S. comparable-store sales rose 0.7% last month, trailing analysts’ estimates for a 2.2% gain.

State sales tax revenue plunge persists Texas collected $1.7 billion in sales taxes last month, down 14.4 percent from November 2008. It was the tenth month in a row of year-over-year declines and the sixth consecutive month of double-digit percentage drops.

It’s safe to conclude that retail sales did NOT increase 1.3% in Texas during November…We’ll venture that other key, large states also display tax receipts that do jibe with US beancounter retail sales.

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