The Econoday consensus estimate for retail sales was +0.1% in a range of -0.1% to +0.4%. No economist came close.

Retail sales fell 1.2 percent in December for the sharpest monthly decline of the expansion, since September 2009 and the last recession. The twist in the data is that vehicle sales, not really part of the holiday season, contributed strongly to December's results and excluding which sales fell 1.8 percent.

Aside from autos, the only other major component that was not in the minus column was building materials, up 0.3 percent for a group that is also not part of the holiday season. A major 3.9 percent drop for nonstore retailers headlines the details and points to a disappointing holiday for e-commerce. Sales at apparel stores fell 0.7 percent in December with department stores down 3.3 percent. Restaurant sales lost 0.7 percent for a second month in a row. Exaggerating December's downside was a 5.1 percent drop in gasoline sales that reflected price effects.

The year-on-year rate for total sales tells the story, falling nearly 2 percentage points to 2.3 percent for its lowest reading since late 2016. These results may reflect consumer edginess going into the government shutdown but they contrast very starkly with strength in the labor market. But the upshot is: confidence and consumer spending have moved to 2-year lows.

Recession Bells

I hear bells. Recession bells.

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

This data matches yesterday's report of rising delinquencies in both autos and credit cards.

Related Articles

  1. Surge in Auto Loan Delinquencies: Auto Loans in High Gear
  2. Household Debt Up 18 Consecutive Quarters to a New Record, Card Stress Rising
  3. Eurozone Recession: Right Here, Right Now!

Also, recall Trade Deficit Shrinks in November Primarily Due to Falling Imports.

It appears consumers are finally tapped out.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Retail Sales Unexpectedly Decline: Average Growth Rate for 6 Months is 0%

Economists missed the mark on retail sales numbers. The second-quarter GDP outlook is off to a bad start.

Confidence? Retail Sales Down Third Month

Citing "consumer confidence", economists expected retail sales to bounce 0.4%. Instead, sales fell for the 3rd month.

Construction Spending Unexpectedly Weak -0.8%: Single-Family Down Every Month

Economists expected construction spending would rise 0.1%. Instead, spending fell 0.8%, including revisions, down 0.4%.

GDPNow Estimate Tumbles on Weak Retail Sales

The GDPNow forecast fell from 2.3% to 1.8% this week on weak retail sales. The Nowcast estimate rose 0.1%.

UK Retail Sales Plunge Most Since March of 2009

Additional cracks are starting to appear in the global economy. In the UK, retail sales plunged the most in eight years. Consumers are also becoming worried about falling house prices. I propose consumers should have been worried that home prices would tank long ago.

Redbook Retail Index Confirms Commerce Department December Retail Collapse

Some economists were in disbelief regarding the huge collapse in retail sales in December. Other indicators now confirm.

Spending Like Crazy: Retail Sales Jump but Bond Yields Lower

Retail sales jumped far more than expected in May, up 0.8% vs a consensus estimate of 0.4%. Curiously, bond yields fell.

Retail Sales Dive (And It’s Not Just Autos)

Retail sales took a 0.3 percent dive in May vs an Econoday expectation of a 0.1 percent rise.

J.D Power and LMC Estimate July Auto Sales Down Five Percent, Time in Inventory Highest Since 2009

July auto sales based on mid-month totals look grim despite record incentives. Industry analysts J.D Power and LMC estimate U.S. July auto sales down 5 percent.