Retail Sales

The Retail Sales report is a monthly measurement of total sales of goods and services at U.S. retail stores.

It is a key indicator of consumer spending, which accounts for a large portion of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

Retail sales are an important part of the U.S. economy and can provide insight into consumer spending patterns and overall economic health.

Policymakers, investors and businesses use this report to gauge the health of the economy and make informed decisions.

What is retail sales?

The U.S. Retail Sales Report captures sales data from a variety of retail establishments, including department stores, supermarkets, gas stations, and online retailers.

The report typically excludes sales from service industries, such as restaurants and hotels.

This data is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau through monthly surveys. Called the Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS).

MRTS surveyed approximately 13,000 retail businesses across the United States, representing every retail industry.

The survey collects data on sales, inventory and other key performance indicators from these businesses. The Census Bureau then processes, analyzes and adjusts the collected data to account for seasonal factors.

How to read a retail sales report

The U.S. retail sales report is released as a percentage change from the previous month, which is typically adjusted for seasonality.

The report also provides year-over-year comparisons. When reading the report, be sure to consider the following:

  • Title Retail Sales: This number represents total sales for the month, including both durable and nondurable goods.
  • Core Retail Sales: This number excludes sales from the volatile auto and gasoline industries and provides a clearer picture of underlying consumer spending trends.
  • Revisions: This report may be revised as more accurate data becomes available. Please be aware of revisions as they may change the interpretation of the data.

What is important in retail sales?

The retail sales report is an important economic indicator and here’s why:

  1. Consumer Spending: As a measure of consumer spending, this report can provide insights into the overall health of the economy. Strong retail sales growth can signal a strong economy, while weak growth can signal stagnation or recession.
  2. Business Cycle: Changes in retail sales can provide clues about the current state of the business cycle, helping policymakers and investors make more informed decisions.
  3. Investment Decisions: Retail sales data can influence stock market trends and inform investment decisions, as strong sales can boost company revenue and stock prices.
  4. Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve uses retail sales data to assess the health of the economy and guide monetary policy decisions, such as interest rate adjustments

Who publishes the retail sales report?

The

U.S. Retail Sales Report is published by the U.S. Retail Sales Report from the Census Bureau, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Census Bureau collects and publishes economic data related to retail sales and other key economic indicators.

When will the retail sales report be released?

U.S. retail sales reports are typically released on a monthly basis, approximately two weeks after the end of the reference month.

Exact release dates can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.

It is important to note that retail sales reports are subject to revision as more accurate and complete data becomes available. These revisions may be made in subsequent reports to more accurately depict retail sales trends over time.

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