United States Retail Sales: ‘ad abundantiam’.

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Retail Sales

Market Sensitivity: High.

What Is It: The first report of the month on consumer spending; capable of big surprises.

Most Current News Release on the Internet: www.census.gov/retail

Home Web Address: www.census.gov

Release Time: 8:30 a.m. (ET); available about two weeks after the month ends.

Frequency: Monthly.

Source: Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce.

Revisions: Can be huge from month to month. Each release also contains broad revisions of the two previous months to reflect more complete information. Annual benchmark changes are released in March and can go back three years or more.”

–> The consumer is in gear for the holidays as a very strong retail sales report lifts the outlook for fourth-quarter consumer spending. Retail sales surged 0.8 percent in November which is far beyond expectations and is 3 tenths over Econoday’s high estimate. The data include a strong upward revision to October which now stands at a 0.5 percent gain vs an initial increase of 0.2 percent.

November’s strength comes despite a 0.2 percent decline in auto sales excluding which sales rose a full 1.0 percent. Core readings underscore all the strength: up 0.8 percent for both ex-auto ex-gas and for the control group.

Most major components outside of autos show gains including a standout 2.5 percent jump in nonstore sales which speaks to unusual strength in e-commerce. Electronics & appliances appear to be early holiday favorites with these stores reporting a 2.1 percent jump on top of a 1.2 percent rise in October. Price discounting for apparel that was evident in yesterday’s consumer price report did not hold down totals for clothing stores which gained 0.7 percent for a second straight month. Restaurants also show strength, up 0.7 percent following October’s 0.4 percent rise.

Consumer spending proved a little soft in the third-quarter GDP report at only 2.3 percent annualized growth but today’s report, including the revision, is certain to lift the outlook for fourth-quarter GDP. And it may even encourage talk that the economy, fed by unusual strength in the labor market, could be at the risk of overheating.

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-R.W.N II

Source: U.S. Census Bureau & Econoday

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