The U.S. Census Bureau announced the following Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services Sales for December 2019.

  • Retail sales were $529.6 billion, an increase of 0.3 percent from November and 5.8 percent above December 2018.
  • Total sales for the 12 months of 2019 were up 3.6 percent from 2018. Total sales for the October 2019 through December 2019 period were up 4.1 percent from the same period a year ago.
  • The October 2019 to November 2019 percent change was revised from up 0.2 percent to up 0.3 percent.

Economists at Econoday expected a 0.4% rise vs the announced result of 0.3%. However, the commerce department revised November sales from +0.2% to +0.3%, negating the reported miss.

Advance Retail Sales

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Winners and Losers

  • Sales at nonstore retailers (think Amazon) were up 19.2% from a year ago while sales at department stores fell 5.5%.
  • Gasoline sales rose 11.3% but that reflects rising gasoline price, an inflexible demand.
  • Excluding gasoline, sales rose 5.3% from a year ago, a solid number.
  • Electronics and appliance stores lost 0.7% from a year ago but got a 0.6% December boost from seasonal shopping. Electronics are likely a casualty of online shopping. Appliances are perhaps a reflection on housing but it would be better to have those categories separated, not tied together.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock