The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report was a strong one, especially in light of revisions.

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2019, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $519.0 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent from the previous month, and 3.2 percent above May 2018. Total sales for the March 2019 through May 2019 period were up 3.6 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The March 2019 to April 2019 percent change was revised from down 0.2 percent to up 0.3 percent.

Retail trade sales were up 0.5 percent from April 2019, and 3.1 percent above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 11.4 percent from May 2018, while sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, and book stores were down 4.2 percent from last year.

Winners and Losers

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Winners and losers are easy to spot.

Year-Over-Year Winners

  • Nonstore retail sales (think Amazon) are up 11.4% from a year ago.
  • Overall numbers including autos are 3.0 to 3.2%.
  • Food and drinking establishments are up 3.7%.

Year-Over-Year Losers

  • Department store sales are down 4.6% from a year ago.
  • Electronic stores are down 2.4%.
  • Clothing sales are down 2.3% and sporting goods 4.2%.
  • Miscellaneous retailers (booths in department stores and malls) are down 2.6%.

Housing

Broadly speaking, if it's related to housing (Appliances, Gardening, Furniture) sales are also weak, -2.4%, +0.2%, +0.6% respectively.

Questions Abound

Some numbers just don't seem to add up.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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