truthingold.blogspot.com / By Dave in Denver / March 13, 2013
Today retail sales for February were released. The number came in at a quite surprisingly robust 1.1% gain (annualized basis) over January. Aside from the fact that the number has been put through the customary “seasonally adjusted” meat grinder, it’s just not a credible number. It is likely that the number includes a high inflation factor. Given that a big part of the gain was a 5% jump in gasoline sales, and given that February’s average gasoline price per gallon nationwide was at an all-time high for February, that would explain most of the “gain.”
But, in fact, if you strip on the “seasonal adjustment” – the unadjusted actual number is buried in the report – it turns out that sales declined from Jan to Feb, the first month to month decline in 3 years. This makes more sense, as consumers are being squeezed by higher payroll taxes, higher gasoline costs, higher food costs (a whole roaster chicken the other day cost me $1/lb vs. .80/lb six months ago). And the fact that consumer’s disposable income is getting squeezed shows up in the Feb numbers for furniture sales (-1.6%), electronics (-0.2%) and sporting goods (-0.9%).