Monday, July 2, 2012

USA Retail Sales Dip in April and May: Gasoline, Building Materials Drop

U.S. Census Bureau: Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services

USA monthly retail and food services sales decreased the past 2 months after revisions were reported. May 2012 slightly dipped -$691 million (-0.17%) to a weaker $404.6 billion, following $405.3 billion in April. The year over year increase from May 2011 to May 2012 was subpar +5.6%, the lowest annual increase since August 2010 (+2.9%) and below the 12-month average of +7.3%. The latest monthly data is an advance estimate, the prior month is preliminary, and earlier months were revised.

The May and April monthly decreases come after 21 consecutive monthly increases (July 2010 through March 2012). Most of the net decrease was attributable to the gasoline, building materials, and general merchandise (department and discount stores) categories. Only the nonstore retailers category, which includes electronic commerce, reported a significant increase.

The pre-recession peak was $378.9 billion in November 2007. The Great Recession cyclical low was $331.4 billion in March 2009. The post-recession high was $406.2 billion in March 2012.

Annualized sales for 2012 are still on a record pace despite the recent slowdown.

The 8 largest components below comprise 87% of total monthly retail sales. An increased amount of consumer spending had been diverted to gasoline since 2009, the result of the increase in oil prices. This is reflected in the Gasoline (green) category, which continues above Food Services (purple). Autos & Parts (dark blue) is the largest component of overall sales, representing 18% of total sales.


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