Retail Sales Still Down For Now Seven Months

Retail sales for June were revised upward by a significant amount, almost $2 billion, which has had the effect only of shuffling that month’s order among the worst. With higher auto sales growth, June overall retail sales were 3.31% year-over-year which remains about half of what would be considered healthy. For July, retail sales decelerated again, to just 2.86%, which more than suggests just an ebb in the contractionary flow.

Ex autos, as usual, retail sales were considerably worse. Despite June’s upward revisions, retail sales in that segment were still less than 2%, and thus remained in the contraction “zone.” Ex autos and ex food, retail sales growth was less than 1% for the seventh consecutive month, meaning all of 2015 has been stripped of “demand” growth.  Even counting auto sales, the 6-month average overall is in June the worst of the “recovery.”

Again, the point about recession is not simply the immediate direction but rather the accumulation and sustaining of atypical weakness. This now the middle of summer, with July figures, and the consumer economy is still stuck at recessionary levels without the hint of turnaround despite everything that is supposedly aligned correctly (Establishment Survey still most of all). It cannot be a healthy economy where all seven months of this year count among the twenty-six worst of the entire data series:

Including food sales improves the comparison only marginally, as 2015’s seven months there fall within the worst thirty-four.

These proportions are far too high at the wrong end to suggest anything but an economy at least remaining in the dangerzone, if not already passed beyond it. Thus, in dead cyclical terms, the June revisions plus July’s equivalence suggest that whether or not consumer recession is already, its worst, the straight-line of the downslope of the “V”, is

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