"Economists are pessimists: they've predicted 8 of the last 3 depressions."
--Barry Asmus

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Monday, November 15, 2010

That Was A Pleasant Surprise

I'm a little late on this - obviously - but I have an excuse. I've been out with my wife and son, doing my part to drive GDP and November retail sales by spending money. Babies are expensive.

But you're not here for that. You're here for the retail sales figures, and what a set of figures they were. Remember how we were expecting a 0.7% increase for October, with a 0.4% ex-auto sales increase? Yeah, well, we kind of beat that. Or, as the official report put it:
The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $373.1 billion, an increase of 1.2 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, and 7.3 percent (±0.7%) above October 2009. Total sales for the August through October 2010 period were up 6.3 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The August to September 2010 percent change was revised from +0.6 percent (±0.5%) to +0.7 percent (±0.3%).
The big winner out of all of this was automobile & other motor vehicle dealers, who saw a month-over-month increase in sales of 5.7%. Building material & garden equipment & supplies dealers were the runners up, with a month-over-month increase in sales of 1.9%.

None of the other categories beat that 1.3% average increase, and three categories (furniture and home furnishing stores, electronics & appliance stores, and department stores) tied for last place with a 0.7% decrease in month-over-month sales.

Still, with less than an hour to go in the trading day, the rather lackluster performance of most categories of retailers doesn't seem to have frightened off the investors.

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