Posts filed under “Retail”

The King Report: No, Retail Sales Did Not Improve in November




How can US beancounters report twice the expected retail sales when all private data and state tax data shows that November had tepid if not soft retail sales – even with the easy y/y comparisons?

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2009, AT 8:30 A.M. EST

November 2009

Special Notice – The advance estimates in this report are the first estimates from a new sample. The new sample for the Advance Monthly Retail Trade Survey is selected about once every two and a half years. For further information on the sample revision, see our website at

Did any pundit or guru actually read the Advance Retail Sales report? This first paragraph in the report warns that a ‘new sample’ technique has been employed.

Ergo, comparisons are futile at this point.

How about this warning from the Census Department about their ‘estimates’: The margin of sampling error, as used on page 1, gives a range about the estimate which is a 90 percent confidence interval. If, for example, the percent change estimate is +1.2 percent and its estimated standard error is 0.9 percent, then the margin of sampling error is ±1.65 x 0.9 percent or ±1.5 percent, and the 90 percent confidence interval is –0.3 percent to +2.7 percent…

Nonsampling error encompasses all other factors that contribute to the total error of a sample survey estimate. This type of error can occur because of nonresponse, insufficient coverage of the universe of retail businesses, mistakes in the recording and coding of data, and other errors of collection, response, coverage, or processing. Although nonsampling error is not measured directly, the Census Bureau employs quality control procedures throughout the process to minimize this type of error.

We must interject once again that in a severe economic downturn numerous firms disappear, and this perverts sampling and surveying.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for November, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $352.1 billion, an increase of 1.3 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month and 1.9 percent (±0.5%) above November 2008. Total sales for the September through November 2009 period were down 2.1 percent (±0.3%) from the same period a year ago. The September to October 2009 percent change was revised from +1.4 percent (±0.5%) to +1.1 percent (±0.2%).

Please note that the retail sales are seasonally adjusted for holiday and trading-day – even though every November contains the exact 30 days with 1 Thanksgiving and retailers are open every day!!!

But the US beancounters do NOT adjust for prices; so the huge consumer electronic discounting is apparently ignored!!! And people keep trading off this data!?!?!

From Friday’s King Report: Reuters: Sales of video game equipment and software in the United States fell 7.6 percent in November to $2.7 billion, research group NPD said on Thursday, as the struggling industry limped into the crucial holiday sales period. Hardware sales fell 13.4 percent, while software sales dropped 3.1 percent. The results were worse than some analysts had expected. “This should not be viewed as a healthy start to the holiday season,” EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich said in a research note.

On Friday, the US Commerce Department report Advance Retail Sales of 1.3%, more than double the expected 0.6%. Sales of electronics jumped 2.8%…Shoppertrak on 12/9 said US retail foot traffic fell 6.1% y/y in November…It’s ‘national retail sales’ estimate decline 0.1% y/y for November.

The International Council of Shopping Centers reported that major chain stores posted a 0.3% decline in sales for November, with 4/5 of retailers missing expectations.

The NY Times on December 3: Retail Sales in November Fell Short of Forecasts

Bloomberg News on December 3: Saks, Macy’s November Sales Miss Analysts’ Estimates Retail Metrics said U.S. comparable-store sales rose 0.7% last month, trailing analysts’ estimates for a 2.2% gain.

State sales tax revenue plunge persists Texas collected $1.7 billion in sales taxes last month, down 14.4 percent from November 2008. It was the tenth month in a row of year-over-year declines and the sixth consecutive month of double-digit percentage drops.

It’s safe to conclude that retail sales did NOT increase 1.3% in Texas during November…We’ll venture that other key, large states also display tax receipts that do jibe with US beancounter retail sales.

Category: Data Analysis, Retail, Think Tank


Whatever little patience I had with Patrick Byrne, and his overzealous friends at, has now become officially exhausted. As I noted last week ( Scraping Facebook Friends), this group found the Facebook friends and relatives of any journalist, critic, fund manager or blogger who dared to  criticize Overstock (or Deep Capture), and then published…Read More

Category: Financial Press, Retail, Short Selling, Web/Tech

Strong Retail Sales in November

Nice chart via Econompic >

Category: Retail, Think Tank

Lucky Shopping Error

I mentioned the other night that I dawdled and missed out on making some cheap purchases at Amazon — the complete Curb Your Enthusiasm: Seasons 1-6:  and Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert. I had put it into my shopping cart, then promptly forgot about it. The next day, the prices had more than doubled…Read More

Category: Retail

What Do Online Sales Look Like This Year?

Black Friday saw more shoppers out, but each consumer spent less per person than they did last year. Cyber Monday — a nonsense term coined by the spin doctors over at the National Retail Federation in 2005 — was quite similar. No, it isn’t the largest online shopping day of the year, it merely is…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Retail

In Stock! Bad Holiday Sales Forecasts

One of the items that never seems to go out of style is the annual holiday sales forecast. Mix one part survey, one part “foot traffic” analysis, and an (un)healthy dollop of optimistic trade group spin, and the result is a cheery annual forecast. As the WSJ noted, “A postmortem of seven leading forecasters’ holiday…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Data Analysis, Psychology, Retail

History of “Black Friday” Is Not What You Think

Two Black Friday related issues. The first is Ethan Trex’ A Brief History of Black Friday (Mental Floss). Ethan disposes of the myth that the name reflects when Retailers “Get in the Black”: “According to researchers, the name “Black Friday” dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday in question is nestled snugly between…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Retail

A Strategic Guide to Black Friday Bargains

WSJ reporter Ann Zimmerman – a retail-sector veteran – offers tips and tricks to finding bargains on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.


Category: Retail, Video

Black Friday Deals

Attention, US Shoppers: With the economy still punk, there are plenty of shopping deals to be had — if you know where to look. Here is a short list: • Amazon has already announced its Black Friday promotions, including discounts from other stores. • Black Friday Ads publishes daily updates featuring the best deals on…Read More

Category: Consumer Spending, Retail

Decorating Macy’s for the Holidays

On the way to the train this evening, it began drizzling — so I duck into Macy’s to cut thru to Penn Station. I noticed 2 things — first, the place was jam packed — it was a mad house, with 30 and 40% off sales. Second, I could not help but notice they did…Read More

Category: Retail