Reclaiming Common Sense

Yesterday we saw the release of the March Advance Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey Data and Report. Officially the March number was an annual decline of 0.2% and February was revised to an annual rate of -0.3%, seasonally adjusted. The problem is that this snapshot is misleading. There were increases in sales in all retail sectors from February to March of this year. That is good news. There were four sectors that had lower sales than last March. That is not so great. There are two sectors that had lower sales during March 2017 than they had during March 2007.Finally, there were major revisions to the February data - most notable the Automobile sales and motor part segment of the economy.

Every Sector saw an increase in Retail Sales Last Month. There were large increases in sales in The Building Material Garden Segment (31.30%,) Motor Vehicle Parts and Dealers (18.76%,) Sporting Goods, Hobby, Books, and Music (18.06%,) and Clothing (16.67%.) It is also important to note that gasoline sales jumped last month. The gasoline stimulus effect is slowing. We continue to try and eat our way out of the recession with strong increases in the food and beverage store sector and the food and beverage places sector.

Four Sectors had lower sales volume than March 2016. Sales were down in the Electronics and Appliance Sector, the Clothing Sector, the Sporting Goods, Hobby and Books sector, and the General Merchandise Sector form March of last year.The electronics and appliance sector and the clothing sector are the smallest sectors of the economy.

Two Sectors have not recovered to March 2007 levels of sales. Home furnishing and electronics and appliances are still lagging. This is certainly due to a still sluggish new home market and a not fully recovered existing home sales market.

Massive downward revisions to the February data - 2.342 Billion total. The largest revisions were to the March Automotive numbers with a decrease of 1.3 billion dollars. There were also over 751 million dollars in downward revisions to the Clothing sector, 374 million dollar decrease in Non-Store retail, and 289 million decrease in General Merchandise sales. These decreases were partially offset by upward revisions to the Miscellaneous sales sector,  Building Sector, the Electronic and Appliance sector, and Gasoline stations. The annual growth rate approached 4% this month, higher than last March's 3.77%. We could be applauding this report.

It's the economy.