US retail sales for November short of expectations

13 Décembre, 2019, 22:57 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Shoppers walk through the Menlo Park Mall in Edison New Jersey U.S. on Friday Nov. 25 2016. As Black Friday ushers in the year-end shopping rush chains are touting larger price cuts than in 2015- a gamble that maintaining market share is worth squ

USA retail sales posted a moderate increase last month, as expected.

Moreover, strip out just cars and gasoline and retail sales were unchanged on the month after rising 0.2% last month. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.5% increase.

US retail sales grew in November, but came in below consensus expectations. The measure excludes food services, vehicle dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, providing a reading considered more reflective of underlying consumer demand.

However, with a late start to Thanksgiving, retailers had six fewer calendar days for the holiday shopping season compared with 2018. At the same time, consumers likely still have enough wherewithal to support the expansion, and an easing of U.S. -China trade war continue to rattle markets.

"As we have been asking, is this just noise or an early sign that cracks in the strong consumer story are starting to form?" said Michelle Girard, chief USA economist at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut. In the latest geopolitical development, the USA and China appeared to be nearing a deal to settle their more-than-yearlong financial dispute, with the White House yesterday reportedly offering to cancel a new round of tariffs scheduled for this weekend. Online and mail-order retail sales increased 0.8% after gaining 0.6% in October.

Online sales were a strong element of Friday's report. Excluding autos, sales ticked up just 0.1%. Online sales have jumped 11.5% in the past year, almost quadruple the overall increase in retail sales.

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The economy expanded at a 2.1% pace in the July-September period. Compared to November past year, retail sales increased 3.3 per cent.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell noted in a press conference this week that consumer confidence remains elevated and that spending is healthy, with policy makers expecting to hold interest rates steady through the end of 2020. The details show that 8 of 13 categories experienced growth, most notably in electronics and gasoline (both +0.7%) while non-store retail saw sales rise 0.8% and motor vehicles/parts rose 0.5%.

Still, the report also included some good news.

Filling-station receipts increased 0.7%, the report showed. Healthy auto sales lifted the overall figure.

What they are saying?: "The retail sales report is flaky, subject to substantial revisions and less reliable than other economic data", said chief economist Chris Low of FHN Financial.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales edged up 0.1 per cent last month after rising by an unrevised 0.3 per cent in October. A late Thanksgiving this year pushed "Cyber Monday" to December 1 and out of the November numbers.

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