But are they, really?
For example, how much of this rise has been nothing more and nothing less than a statistical mirage created by the increased cost of fuel?
Has the recent run-up in commodities, particularly oil & gas, served to mask an underlying deterioration in the retail economy at large that is associated with the current double-dip recession in real estate?
Has the official Retail Sales reporting merely boasted increases in large part reflecting population growth, while in reality, per-capita Retail Sales is stuck in 1st Gear, at best?
Has the recent ascension of stock markets and thus 401Ks served to mask a deep-seated sense of unreality in the way GDP is calculated, when it comes to everyday, average Americans?
A sort of triple-dose of déjà vu, here?
The following excerpts seek to look a little bit deeper, and a sneak just a little bit further, behind the curtain.
Paper Economy - A US Real Estate Bubble Blog
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Conspicuous Correlation: Retail Sales April 2011
Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its latest nominal read of retail sales showing an increase of 0.5% since March bringing the total increase since last year to 7.6% on an aggregate of all items including food, fuel and healthcare services.
Nominal discretionary retail sales including home furnishings, home garden and building materials, consumer electronics and department store sales, on the other hand, declined 0.64% from March falling 1.44% below the level seen in April 2010 while, adjusting for inflation, “real” discretionary retail sales actually declined a notable 4.39% over the same period.
...Looking at the chart below (click for full-screen dynamic version), adjusted for inflation (CPI for retail sales, CPI “less shelter” for S&P/Case-Shiller Composite) the “rough correlation” between the year-over-year change to the “discretionary” retail sales series and the year-over-year S&P/Case-Shiller Composite series seems now even more significant.
Consumer Metrics Institute: New Historic Lows
May 9, 2011
On Thursday of this week, we'll get the Advance Monthly Retail Trade Report for April from the Census Bureau. Shortly thereafter I'll post my revised retail sales charts. Meanwhile, I've updated my Consumer Metrics Institute (CMI) charts through the latest data. The CMI Daily Growth Index has been setting new historic lows on virtually a daily basis over the past four weeks. Since the consumer accounts for about 70% of the U.S economy, the Institute's April 28 commentary on First Quarter 2011 GDP offers some insight on the discrepancy between government's measure of the economy and the CMI findings.