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By New_Deal_democrat April 14, 2015 1:39 pm
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Good news and bad news about March retail sales

he good news is, as forecast by the Weekly Indicators, nominal retail sales for March increased +0.9%. February's decline was shaved by .1% up to -0.5%.

The bad news is, even with that increase, retail sales have not exceeded their November 2014 high, either in nominal or real terms.

Let's take a more detailed look.  First, here's a look at real, inflation-adjusted retail sales through February, normed to 100 at their November 2014 peak:

There was a slight positive revision of February sales in this morning's report, but still, as of one month ago, we were -1.3% below the peak.

Next, here is the monthly percentage change in nominal retails sales over the last 12 months (blue) vs. the monthly percentage change in consumer prices (red):

Even if there were no inflation at all in March, we would still be about -0.4% below the peak.  On Friday the CPI will be reported, and estimates are for a +0.2% or +0.3% increase.

The bottom line is that, in March, we pretty much reversed February's big decline. But we have not made up for the other big decline in December. So, we're moving in the right direction, but it remains a concern that we remain below where we were 4 months ago.

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