Advanced Monthly Retail Trade Survey for May 2023

Jun 19, 2023 | Macro Insights, No Bull Economics

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The Fed is looking hard for signs of a slowing economy, and unfortunately, retail sales are not cooperating.

Commentary

  • While advanced retail sales for May 2023 increased only 1.6% y/y, they accelerated to +0.3% m/m sequentially over April 2023 (which represents a +3.6% annual run rate).
  • Lower gas prices translated into lower spending at the pump (down -20.5% y/y and -2.6% m/m) which freed-up consumer spending in other categories – most notably, in building materials & garden as consumers spruce up their houses for their stay-cations (as referenced in this Dave & Buster’s post) and in auto repair (as referenced in this AutoZone post).
  • Notably, sequential spending also picked up for department and electronic stores while slowing online.
  • Also, sequential spending slowed sharply for health & personal care stores while moderating for grocery stores and restaurants.
  • In conclusion, it seems that relief at the gas pump helped finance pent-up demand for consumer spending categories in May that had previously been put on hold while the public traded-off discretionary spending for a full tank of gas.    
Advanced Retail Sales Chart

Source: Monthly Retail Trade – Sales Report (census.gov)

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