2017 Economic Calendar
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Retail Sales  
Released On 1/13/2017 8:30:00 AM For Dec, 2016
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Retail Sales - M/M change0.1 %0.2 %0.7 %0.4 % to 0.9 %0.6 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change0.2 %0.3 %0.5 %0.4 % to 0.8 %0.2 %
Less Autos & Gas - M/M Change0.2 %0.3 %0.3 %0.3 % to 0.4 %0.0 %

Highlights
Outside of cars, consumers weren't in much of a spending mood this holiday season. Retail sales did post a very solid gain in December, up 0.6 percent, but without autos the gain falls to only 0.2 percent. And exclude gasoline as well, which isn't really a common holiday gift, and sales come in dead flat at zero.

And gifts were on the light side this year based on department store sales which fell 0.6 percent in the month and also electronic & appliance stores where sales fell 0.5 percent. And in a clear sign of discretionary weakness, restaurant sales fell 0.8 percent for the largest monthly decline in a nearly year.

Vehicle sales, which jumped 2.4 percent in the month, pull the report to the upside as do gasoline sales which rose 2.0 percent. But retail sales excluding gasoline do show a very solid 0.5 percent vehicle-driven gain and underscore that this report, despite the softness in holiday categories, is still a solid plus for fourth-quarter GDP. And there are positives led once again by ecommerce as nonstore retailers saw a 1.3 percent monthly rise.

The bottom line is best characterized by apparel where sales were flat, posting no change for the second month in a row. Consumer spirits may be very high, and if this benefited retail sales in December it was mostly isolated to vehicles.

Recent History Of This Indicator
Autos are not usually the focus of the December retail sales report where instead holiday spending is the key. But unit auto sales, as reported by manufacturers, were unusually strong in the month and are expected to give a significant lift to the motor vehicle component of December's retail sales report. Forecasters see retail sales rising 0.7 percent in the month. Sales at gasoline stations, which are not of course central to holiday demand, are likely to get a lift from December's rise in gasoline prices and underpin the ex-auto reading where a sizable 0.5 percent gain is the consensus. When excluding both autos and gasoline, which is the reading that is at the heart of holiday sales, forecasters see only a 0.3 percent rise in what would point to mild disappointment for the nation's merchants.

Definition
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
 
[Chart]
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
 
 

2017 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/132/153/154/145/126/147/148/159/1510/1311/1512/14
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov
 


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