Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Retail Sales

Released on 5/13/2009 8:30:00 AM For April, 2009
Previous Consensus Consensus Range Actual
Retail Sales - M/M change -1.1 % 0.1 % -0.6 % to 0.6 % -0.4 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change -0.9 % 0.3 % -0.2 % to 0.8 % -0.5 %

Retail sales in April were surprisingly negative, dashing market expectations significantly for two months in a row. Overall retail sales fell another 0.4 percent in April after dropping 1.3 percent the month before. The April decrease was sharply below the market forecast for a 0.1 percent increase. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales posted a 0.5 percent decline, after a 1.2 percent plunge in March. The fall in ex-auto sales was far worse than the consensus expectation for a 0.3 percent increase.

Declines in sales were broad based but led by electronics & appliance stores, down 2.8 percent; gasoline stations, down 2.3 percent; and food & beverage stores, down 1.0 percent. The downward tug by gasoline sales hardly explains the overall weakness. Excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, retail sales fell 0.3 percent after declining 1.0 percent in March.

Overall retail sales on a year-on-year basis in April were down 10.1 percent, down from minus 9.6 percent in March. Excluding motor vehicles, the year-on-year rate worsened to down 7.7 percent from down 6.3 percent in March.

Equities will not like today's retail sales numbers. The green shoots view of the economy holds true only if the consumer sector stabilizes. Look for possible flight to safety in the bond market.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Retail sales dropped 1.1 percent in March after a 0.3 percent gain in February. Sales were weak across the board. But the strongest declines were seen in electronics & appliance stores, motor vehicles, and miscellaneous store retailers. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales decreased 0.9 percent, after a 1.0 percent boost the month before. Our first glimpse at consumer spending for April was not good, hinting retail sales could decline further for the month. Unit new motor vehicle sales fell back to a 9.32 million unit annualized pace for the month after a 9.86 million unit rate in March - a 5.5 percent monthly decline.

Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods. Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of GDP and is therefore a key element in economic growth. Why Investors Care

Data Source: Haver Analytics

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