April Retail Sales: That Whiplash Feeling

If you have that whiplash feeling, you must be looking at the April retail sales report. It’s amusing that behind the flat month the over-the-year gain, 51.2%, is within three percentage points of the yearly gain in our survey of state sales tax receipts. Beneath that unchanged headline, and a 0.8% decline excluding automobiles, and excluding automobiles and gas, we have a 726% over-the-year increase at clothing & accessory stores, which turns into a 5.1% over-the-month decline from March’s 115.4% over-the-year and 22.7% over-the-month increases. March’s headline was revised up by a 0.9 percentage points to 10.7%, and so was everything else except grocery stores, nonstore retailers, down 1.3pps, and gas stations, down 0.7pps, with a few categories unchanged. Sales in electronic stores were revised up by a dazzling 7pps.

Here’s what it all looks like: