November 2011 Retail Sales increased 0.2%. October retail sales were revised up a 10th of a percentage point to 0.6%. Retail sales are up 6.7% from the same time last year. Electronics and Appliance stores shot up another 2.1% in a month, and were 20% of the total increase in retail sales. Autos still rule the retail world and sales by dealers was over half the increase by dollars of retail sales for November, a 0.7% increase from October.
Total retail sales are $399.4 billion for November. While electronics and appliances increased 2.1% from last month, it's not the real driver of consumer spending.
The above chart breaks down seasonally adjusted retail sales by percentage of total November sales. As we can see, electronics is only 2.2%. Computer and software store sales (which includes smartphones), are only 22% of the total store sales for the electronics & appliances category. There is a lot of hype surrounding smart phones, but sorry, smart phones do not save the economy. Below is a bar chart breaking down net sales revenues reported by surveyed stores (retail outlets).
Motor Vehicles & Parts are the big money of retail sales. We spend more money on our cars than groceries and booze. Motor vehicle sales were up +0.7% in November and are up 8.1% from November 2010. Auto sales are $63.4 billion, or 15.9% of all retail sales. Motor Vehicles and Parts, or everything car retail sales increased 0.5% for November and are up 7.5% for the year.
Retail sales are not adjusted for price increases, not reported in real dollars. Real Economic growth adjusts for inflation. Retail sales has variance, margins of error, and is often revised as more raw data comes into the U.S. Department of Commerce (Census division). Data is reported via surveys, and is net revenues of retail stores, outlets. Online retail net revenues are asked in a separate survey of large retail companies (big box marts). This is also the advanced report. To keep the gains in perspective, below is the graph of monthly percentage changes since 2008.
Gas sales decreased -0.1% from October but are still up a whopping +12.9% for the year. People spending more to fill up their tank is not much of a job creator in the U.S. and sales are much more correlated to changing gas prices. Grocery retail sales decreased -0.3% and are up +4.6% from November 2010.
Nonstore retailers increased +1.5% but are up +13.9% from the year previous. Nonstore retailers are online shopping, mail order, door to door. Online shoppin' is roughly 76% of nonstore retail sales. It's clear e-shopping is increasing in market share and is becoming a large factor in overall retail sales.
Retail trade sales are retail sales minus food and beverage services and it increased +0.3% in November and are up +6.8% for the year. Retail trade sales includes gas.
Building material, garden equipment decreased -0.3% this month and is up 6.2% for the year. Sporting goods, books, music, hobby retail sales increase 0.3% and are up 6.3% for the year. Furniture increased +0.4% and is up 4.4% for the year. Department stores increased +0.3% and are down -3.0% from this time last year.
Advanced retail sales are reported three month tallies. There is variation in the monthly reported figures as well as data reporting lag. The three month tally, from September to November, is up +2.1% from the previous three month period and +7.4% in comparison to the same period in 2010.
Seasonal adjustments are aggregate and based on events like holidays associated with shopping, i.e. the Christmas rush.
Retail sales correlates to personal consumption, which is about 70% of GDP growth. Yet GDP has inflation removed from it's numbers. This is why Wall Street jumps on these retail sales figures. Lord help them if America stops shoppin'. 2010 saw poverty rates as high as 1993 and wages were flat. Increases in real disposable personal income are usually low or declining. In other words, where people are getting the cash to go shoppin' is anyone's guess.
The below graph is retail sales minus autos & parts. Retail sales minus autos & parts increased +0.6% for October and is up +7.3% since this time last year.
Retail minus auto & parts, food and beverages is up 0.2% for November and 6.6% for the year. Here is last month's overview unrevised. Advance reports almost always are revised the next month.
While Wall Street cheers and this report is useful for individual retail sectors, for better macro economic indicators the personal income & outlays report gives monthly real, or adjusted for inflation, personal consumption expenditures. Basically if prices increase, so do retail sales, even if the volume remains the same.