Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Deeper Look at Retail Sales

The following is from the comments section and frankly needs no further explanation.

Here’s the Shoppertrak monthly Year-over-Year data beginning Thanksgiving 2006:

Monthly data: sales/foot traffic
Holiday season: +5.0%/-1.7%
January: +4.9%/-3.9%
February: +4.3%/-4.9%
March: +2.7%/+2.9%

The weekly data has to be treated as noise, there is too much variability in volume in this weighted index.

The months’ sales and traffic tell a more interesting story. First, notice how each successive month is increasing less over last year’s numbers. In the case of March, adjusted for inflation, there was no growth YoY.

Second, notice how the YoY sales increases have been built on less traffic. This is a pretty startling statistic, in that it suggests that the “median” consumer has rolled over, but the “mean”, more wealthy consumer has enough wealth to casue the overall result to stay positive. March’s positive foot traffic may be due to Easter coming one week earlier this year. By the end of April, we should know if the trend is intact.

If the trend continues, we should have negative YoY retail sales no later than summer.
(BTW, I haven't found Shoppertrak's earlier 2006 data anywhere online. I'd be glad to take the series back further, if someone can supply a source).