2012 Economic Calendar
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Retail Sales  
Released On 4/16/2012 8:30:00 AM For Mar, 2012
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Retail Sales - M/M change1.1 %1.0 %0.3 %0.1 % to 0.7 %0.8 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change0.9 %0.6 %0.4 % to 1.1 %0.8 %
Retails Sales - $ level407.805 $ billions
Retails Sales less auto - $ level335.270 $ billions
Less Autos & Gas - M/M Change0.6 %0.5 %0.5 %0.2 % to 0.9 %0.7 %

Retail sales were much stronger than expected in March with a gain in autos being quite unexpected. The narrow core measure showed broad based increases. Retail sales in March advanced 0.8 percent after increasing 1.0 percent the prior month (originally up 1.1 percent). The median market forecast was for a 0.3 percent rise.

Motor vehicle sales gained 0.9 percent, following a 1.3 percent increase in February. This is in contrast to a sizeable dip in unit new auto sales.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales gained 0.8 percent after increasing 0.9 percent in February (originally up 0.9 percent). Analysts expected a 0.6 percent rise. With prices still rising in March on average, gasoline sales increased 1.1 percent after a 3.6 percent surge the month before.

Sales excluding autos and gasoline in March rose a healthy 0.7 percent, following a 0.5 percent jump the prior month (originally up 0.6 percent). Core components showed widespread strength. Standouts included building materials & garden equipment, furniture & home furnishings, electronics & appliances, and clothing. Declines were seen in miscellaneous store retailers and in health & personal care.

Clearly there are some special factors behind the overall strong sales number-higher gasoline prices and perhaps higher prices for motor vehicles. The core is quite encouraging. Atypically warm weather likely helped building materials, but the broad strength stands out. The consumer appears to be willing to spend despite glum measures of consumer confidence.

On the news, equity futures rose moderately with some offset coming from a disappointing Empire State report.

Consensus Outlook
Retail sales in February rose a strong 1.1 percent after gaining 0.6 percent the month before. Strength was in the motor vehicles component which rebounded 1.6 percent after dipping 1.6 percent in January. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales jumped 0.9 percent in February after increasing 1.1 percent in January. Lifted by higher prices, gasoline sales increased 3.3 percent after a 1.9 percent jump the prior month. Sales excluding autos and gasoline in February improved 0.6 percent, following a 1.0 percent gain the prior month. Gains were widespread. Looking ahead, the March number may be a battle between a drop in unit new motor vehicle sales versus a likely gain in gasoline sales.

Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell merchandise and related services to final consumers. Sales are by retail and food services stores. Data are collected from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Essentially, retail sales cover the durables and nondurables portions of consumer spending. Consumer spending typically accounts for about two-thirds of GDP and is therefore a key element in economic growth.  Why Investors Care
Nearly 75 percent of the time, changes in monthly retail sales are between +1 percent and -1 percent. However, there are many months in which the monthly change falls outside that range. Most of the time, excessive increases or decreases are due to higher/lower spending on motor vehicle sales. Year-over-year changes in retail sales can be volatile as well, but tend to be smoother than monthly changes.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

2012 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/122/143/134/165/156/137/168/149/1410/1511/1412/13
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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