Retail sales grew 0.2% in November

Implications:  Retail sales grew less than the consensus expected in November, but still show solid economic growth.  Sales were up 0.4% including upward revisions to prior months.  Of the 83 forecasting teams with a prediction for retail sales, we were one of only two that got the November increase exactly right, so today's data are entirely consistent with our generally bullish economic outlook and sales should be stronger in December.  Regardless, there was nothing bad at all about November.  Overall sales increased for the 15th time in 16 months and sales ex-autos increased for the 18th consecutive month.  For the record, this kind of consistent and continuous growth is rare.  Typically, retail sales have three or four negative months every year, even in good years.  The fact that retail sales have remained consistently strong is a sign of a very resilient recovery.  "Core" sales, which exclude autos, building materials, and gas, have increased every month so far this year, the first time this has happened since the late 1990s.  In other news on the retail sector, chain store sales continue to look good, up 2.9% versus a year ago according to both the International Council of Shopping Centers and Redbook Research.  Remember, these figures show same-store sales; total sales are up more than that.  The news also looks good outside the retail sector.  Non-retail inventories are up and earlier today, Boeing reported its largest order ever, more than 200 jets, from Southwest Airlines adding to already strong orders for durable goods in November.  All in all, fourth quarter real GDP seems to be growing at a 4% annual rate, which would be the fastest pace for any quarter since 2006.

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Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 @ 10:30 AM

These posts were prepared by First Trust Advisors L.P., and reflect the current opinion of the authors. They are based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.