Economy 13 Dec 2006 04:56 pm

Retail Sales’ Surprise Growth

by Sean Hackbarth

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Along with the news about possible airline consolidation the other surprise news was the growth in retail sales:

Showing surprising strength, seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales increased by 1% in November, the first gain since July, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

Excluding the 0.9% gain in motor vehicle sales, retail sales rose 1.1%, the largest gain since January.

Sales were much stronger than the 0.2% gain expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. They expected sales excluding autos to rise 0.3%.

Economists and forecasters are pulling late nights recalculating their models.

Those few shoppers that did make it to the stores must have spent a ton–probably on HDTVs (electronics store sales jumped 4.6%). That fits with Dr. Peter Morici’s view:

Sales of upscale items remain strong. These are powered by recent stock market gains and strong employment and pay increases for professionals and managers well positioned to benefit from globalization, for example in investment banking, law, top levels of corporate management, and accounting.

He calls today’s numbers “decent but modest gains” but “not enough to power robust economic growth.”

Or maybe Britt Beemer isn’t as good of a retail analyst as he thinks he is.

The AP quotes Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors: “No matter what the retailers may be saying, it appears that consumers have taken out their wallets so far this holiday season.” In other words, numbers don’t lie, but they can be revised.

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One Response to “Retail Sales’ Surprise Growth”

  1. on 14 Dec 2006 at 1:39 pm 1.TAM Money and Finance » Real Estate: Stuck in Neutral said …

    [...] Ben Jones at The Housing Bubble Blog links a bunch of stories showing the lackluster housing market is negatively affecting mortgage firms. Will this spread to the rest of the economy? Not according to this week’s retail sales numbers. [...]

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