We saw solid Growth during August- What is interesting is the downward revision to the Food and Drinking Places number. It is not much of a revision, going from 55.540 billion to 55.373 billion. We also saw downward revisions for General Merchandise, Hobby, gasoline, and furniture sales. We saw upward revisions for Motor Vehicles, Electronics and Appliances, Building Material, Food and Beverage Stores, clothing, and non-store retail.

Sluggishness in Furniture Sector and Electronics and Appliance Sector

There are many components to a healthy economy. This column has published numerous articles on the jobs component of a successful economy. Housing is another important component of a healthy economy. If people are buying homes they are using other services and purchasing other products. A component of the housing market that does this are. the new home construction and new home sales sectors Another component is he Retail Sales Sector. We have seen sluggish and inconsistent Monthly and Annual Retail Trade Survey (MARTS) data all year. The questions that need to be addressed are: How are the retail sectors doing compared to last year and; How are they doing with regard to pre-recession levels of sales.

Same month sales were down during August. We saw sales drop for same month data  for Gasoline sales, Clothing sales, Electronics and appliances sales, and General Merchandise sales during August. July Retail sales were abysmal prior to the first revision of the data. We saw a decline from July 2015 to July 2016 for same months sales in six sectors. June was not much better when it was reported here that Three Sectors had not returned to June 2006 Levels.

We are not in a Retail Recession as of yet. The low levels of gasoline prices we have seen for this year and last year were supposed to be acting as a stimulus. The problem that we are seeing is that while gasoline prices are down, tax revenues are up. Shelter costs are up over last year. We have seen a slowing in overall spending this year. The rate of increase has been lower than prior years. The Great Recession was actually four recessions in one: A Housing Recession, a Jobs Recession, a Retail Recession, and a Gross Domestic Product Recession.

We still are seeing slowing in spending in Gasoline and Electronics and Appliances. We are also seeing slowing in the hobby sector and General Merchandise Sector.

We saw fewer sales in Electronics and Appliance this September than we saw during September 2015, 2014. Gasoline sales have been decreasing every September since 2012.  The good news is that other than gasoline and furniture sales all of the sectors saw higher sales than prior to the recession.While we have seen savings of 900 million in gasoline sales this year over last September, we are spending billions more on automobiles and Building Material. This is good.

The growth in spending during July, August, and September is slower than 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. We  saw slower growth during July than we saw during 2015. We are seeing growth, so we are not in a retail recession. We are seeing spikes in Food and Beverage Store Sales, Food and Beverage Places sales.  We may be doing better than 2015, the question is how long will this last with the monthly fluctuations in hiring full-time employees and releasing part-time employees or hiring part-time employees and releasing full-time employees.

The Trend For Furniture Sales is with 2005, Not 2006 or 2007. There may be an uptick during December. Will we maintain our pace with 2005 or will we drop as we did during 2008?

The Trend for Electronic and Appliance Sales is a bit murky - Slower than 2006, 2007, and 2008.  If the data is examined closely, we truly are only doing better than the recession years. That is not good at all. Will we continue with the levels seen during 2012? Will we drop to 2005 levels?

The Retail market is an important driver for the economy. Furniture and Electronic/Appliances are need for new homes. New home sales have been sluggish. If we see a surge in these two sectors we could fully emerge from the Retail Recession.

Was the July Revision to the Health and Personal Care Number real or a Transposition? The July HPC number was revised from 29.297 billion to 27.295 billion dollars. Health care expenditures still increased 5.76% same month 2016 over July 2015. This is a huge revision. Other downward revisions hit Miscellaneous Retail sales and Non-store retail sales.

 Reclaiming Common Sense