The word of the day is "down". The Advance Retail Sales report shows a decline for the third month.

A revision took away a small bit of the sting as the December 2017 to January 2018 percent change was revised from down 0.3 percent to down 0.1 percent.

However, the numbers, led by autos, are not pretty.

Sales by Business

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Hurricane Impact Vanished

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Except for building materials, the hurricane impact is history.

Last autumn I stated there would be a hurricane boost with a payback in the first quarter. Here we are.

Year-Over-Year

Year over-year numbers still look good, but how long will that last?

Here's a hint: Compare year-over-year (4.3%) to September through November (0.6%).

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Econoday

Econoday blows it again with this bogus comment: "There really should be no alarm on the consumer as retail sales in fact remain positive, evident in the total year-on-year rate which is up 1 tenth to a respectable 4.0 percent with the control group up 3 tenths to 4.2 percent. Should spending on services continue to show strength, consumer spending can still post passable first-quarter results."

Where did they dig this person up from?

Heading into the report this was the consensus opinion: "Retail sales are expected to show some snap back in February with Econoday's consensus at a solid 0.4 percent. When excluding autos, where unit sales were flat in February, forecasters also see a 0.4 gain percent as they do when excluding both autos and also gasoline. When excluding autos, gas, food services and building materials, control group sales are expected to come in at a 0.5 percent gain."

Consumer Confidence?

Every month I laugh at meaningless consumer confidence numbers.

Economists look at confidence, a coincident indicator of the stock market and/or gasoline prices and proclaim "confident consumers will spend".

They do, until they don't.

Spending Projections

Earlier this morning I posted a chart of Consumer Spending Projections. Here's the chart again.

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Economists say that because consumers feel good, they will spend more. Here we have a survey that actually asks consumers what they will spend, but the Fed does not believe its own survey.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock​

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