The Commerce Department is reporting that retail sales rose in November.
Yahoo Finance: US Retail Sales Strong, Consumers More Confident:
U.S. consumers stepped up their spending in November and grew more optimistic this month, data showed on Friday, raising hopes a self-sustaining economic recovery was starting to unfold.
The Commerce Department said total retail sales increased 1.3 percent last month, the largest advance since August, after rising 1.1 percent in October. It was the second straight monthly gain and beat market expectations for a 0.7 percent gain.
A separate report showed consumer sentiment improved in early December on signs of stabilization in the labor market.
But are the retail sales numbers really what the Commerce Department says they are?
On its face it looks like a good report.Â However, the sampling change along with some of the missing internal sub-sets for the current month make it nearly impossible for me to evaluate whether we’re seeing broad-based strength on an actual basis or whether gasoline and sampling revisions are responsible for most of it.
I’m deeply skeptical of these numbers, mostly because the other data available that I’ve cited in recent days – the Gallup Survey, the actual POS data stream analysis, and ShopperTrack’s latest – all say that Black Friday was down modestly (or worse.)
Was the front of the month that much better on “hope and change” only to get blown to bits over the Thanksgiving Holiday?Â I don’t buy it and thus far the preponderance of the evidence does not point toward a broad-based consumption recovery.
Of notable interest is a report from the Associated Press which suggests that some well known retailers struggled in November:
After posting two straight gains following more than a year of declines, big chain retail stores earlier this month reported a dip in November sales. Those figures didn’t include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, which no longer reports monthly sales.
But a diverse group of stores, including Macy’s Inc., Saks Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co. and Target Corp., did post sharper-than-expected sales declines in November.
We’ll get a better look at consumer spending and retail sales recovery in January, when we see the complete Holiday numbers from brick and mortar stores, as well as online shopping behemoths like Amazon.com.
It could go either way, but given the hit consumers have taken in the employment rolls, wage cuts and credit contraction, don’t expect a blow-out shopping season. If Gerald Celente is right, as he was last January, and we do have a Christmas Crash because of poor retail numbers, Get Ready for the Collapse to Come Very Quickly.