Skip to main content

Retail Sales Mostly Flounder But Vehicles and Revisions the Bright Spots

The Advance Retail Sales report was a genuine mixed bag. Here's a look at what's hot and what's not.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:
Advance Retail Sales data from Commerce Department, chart by Mish

Advance Retail Sales data from Commerce Department, chart by Mish

Advance Retail Sales Details 

  • The Advance Retail Sales were $658.1 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent  from the previous month, and 17.6 percent above February 2021.
  • The December 2021 to January 2022 percent change was revised from up 3.8 percent to up 4.9 percent. 
  • Gasoline station sales were up 36.4 percent from February 2021.
  • Motor vehicles sales rose 0.8 percent.
  • Excluding motor vehicles sales were up 0.2 percent.
  • Excluding motor vehicles and gas sales declined 0.4 percent.

Advance retail sales are adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes.

Why the January Bounce?

The following chart helps explain the dip in December and the rise in January.

Advance Retail Sales data from Commerce Department, chart by Mish

Advance Retail Sales data from Commerce Department, chart by Mish

  1. The huge 11.2% dip in nonstore retail sales (think Amazon), was followed by a 20.6% rebound in January. 
  2. This largely reflects gift card purchases made in December but spent in January. Stores do not count gift cards as sales until they are spent.
  3. The first two spikes in the above chart represent genuine helicopter drop spending from fiscal stimulus.
Advance Retail Sales data from Commerce Department, chart by Mish

Advance Retail Sales data from Commerce Department, chart by Mish

Three rounds of fiscal stimulus, the first under Trump early on, are clearly visible in the above chart.

Explaining Inflation

  • Huge inflation resulted from those free-money handouts.
  • Covid caused supply chain disruptions. 
  • Covid also caused a huge consumer demand preference shift from services to good (fewer haircuts, less eating out, more work-at-home offices, etc).
  • Fed QE stimulus lowered mortgage rates fueling price-chasing.
  • Fed QE stimulus also fueled insanely overpriced stocks. The wealth effect in turn simulated housing and spending in general. 
  • Labor shortages led to wage hikes. Although wage hikes did not keep up with inflation, consumers still spend more as prices rose.
  • Very recently, and on top of previous inflation spikes, the war in Ukraine fueled commodity price increases. 

Biden Down the Rabbit Hold

Scroll to Continue

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

CPI data from BLS, chart by Mish

CPI data from BLS, chart by Mish

On March 11, I discussed Biden's Lie of the Day: "Make No Mistake, Inflation is Largely the Fault of Putin"

Inflation was basked in the cake and rising steeply long before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Used Car Are Prices Up 42 Percent in One Year, Have They Finally Peaked?

Also see Used Car Are Prices Up 42 Percent in One Year, Have They Finally Peaked?

Nancy Pelosi Hoot of the Day "Government Spending Reduces Debt"

Nancy Pelosi tried to downplay events with her nonsensical comment "Government Spending Reduces Debt"

This post originated on MishTalk.Com.

Thanks for Tuning In!

Please Subscribe to MishTalk Email Alerts.

Subscribers get an email alert of each post as they happen. Read the ones you like and you can unsubscribe at any time.

If you have subscribed and do not get email alerts, please check your spam folder.

Mish