Gallup Consumer Spending Data Refutes Commerce Department January Retail Sales Announcement

Tyler Durden's picture

As if anyone needed more reasons to doubt the data coming out of our government. Earlier today the Commerce Department reported that January retail sales data came at a nice and bubbly 0.5% sequential increase, and an even nicer and bubblier 4.7% YoY. This presumably beat expectations which were looking for a sequential beat of 0.3%. Yet here comes the much more reliable Gallup data to throw some salt in yet another economic data fabrication. According to daily Gallup consumer polling, which due to its lack of proximity to the government propaganda complex is vastly more reliable, the January average data showed a decline of 5.8% over January 2009 and a whopping 16.3% decline over December. This is beginning to parallel the ever increasing divergence between the ABC consumer comfort index and the UMichigan index which lately seems to only track the average leve of the S&P over the prior month.

The chart below shows the true consumer spending behavior of Americans.

The gallup methodology is much more accurate than anything that could possible come out of the Commerce Department with its infinite data "adjustments."

Gallup's consumer spending measure tracks the average dollar amount
Americans report spending or charging on a daily basis, not counting
the purchase of a home, motor vehicle, or normal household bills.
Respondents are asked to reflect on the day prior to being surveyed and
results are presented here in both a 3-day and 14-day rolling average.

And here is how the Census Bureau determines its data:

The advance estimates are based on a subsample of the Census Bureau's
full retail and food services sample. A stratified random sampling method is
used to select approximately 5,000 retail and food services firms whose sales
are then weighted and benchmarked to represent the complete universe of over
three million retail and food services firms.
Responding firms account for approximately
65% of the MARTS dollar volume estimate. For an explanation of the measures
of sampling variability included in this report, please see the Reliability
of Estimates section on the last page of this publication.

Feel free to decide whom you trust.

h/t Geoffrey Batt

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drbill's picture

I trust "everything" my government tells me...  Oops, there I go again, using words that are the opposite of what I really mean.

strike for return to reality's picture

A little optimistic with the use of "my government".  I suspect no ZH posters can afford to own any of this government.

PD Quig's picture

The USG data game will continue unabated...until it can no longer continue. I recall that every game of 'Hide and Seek' eventually ended when we got called to come in, take a bath, and go to bed.

Bath time is coming, and it's going to leave a nosty ring in the tub.

pooplagrande's picture

Trust me sheeple...this is much more accurate. I run a nationwide retail store and represent hundreds of manufacturers/designers. I speak to them and others in my field constantly. I don't even need these polls to tell me. The consumer is in hibernation...and the government wants to spin (that means lie by the way) the numbers to increase confidence.

Postal's picture

As a consumer, I'll agree with you; however, I'd like to offer my own $0.02:

First, after being out of work for two years (26 months actually), I'm in no mood to spend money I'm lucky to have. I pay just above the minimums on my student loans and CC bills and save the rest. Until the job situation improves, nothing else matters. I spent the first three months of my current job waking in a cold sweat, afraid I would lose this job.

Second, even when I do find item(s) I would like to purchase with my meger disposable income, customer service at most retail establishments is downright awful. Absolutely nothing matters except making a sale. Even minor deviations, for which I'm certainly willing to pay, are unacceptable (i.e., properly wrapping my order to prevent damage during shipment). It's always the same: Upsell crap I don't need, push the store CC, talk up the return policy. Do everything possible to take my money--except actually help me solve a problem.

My observation is thus: The business community brought it on themselves by outsourcing good paying jobs and piss-poor customer service.

Anonymous's picture

I thought the "prop" for the January consumer buying was gift card spending? Residual holiday buying.

ptoemmes's picture

From earlier today on Bloomberg:

regarding the gov report comes this

"Stockpiles Drop

A third report today showed inventories at U.S. businesses unexpectedly fell in December for the first time in three months as companies couldn’t keep up with increasing demand. Macy’s Inc. and Gap Inc. are among retailers driving profits up by keeping stockpiles lean after the biggest household spending slump in three decades."

Now I do not claim to know much less understand, but I thought a good deal of the Q4 GDP print was due to an inventory build and this sounds not that.  Can't keep up with increasing (consumer) demand - REALLY?




Great Depression Trader's picture

This morning when I saw the retail data I automatically knew that the numbers were fudged. Then comes out a nice report from ZH and now we see how dismal the numbers truly are. The sad part is that the sheeple will only see the headline gov number and will believe it. Thats their problem if they like being lied to.

Hephasteus's picture

No. They'll retrench super hard, not this pussy ass entrenchment. Then see what gets said.

Ivanovich's picture

Market goes back up!  All the doom and gloom does nothing to stop it :(

Anonymous's picture

70% of the yoy increase in retail sales was from gas stations. Plus, yoy gad demand was down about 0.5% and distallate demand down 9%.

Going Down's picture


Trust Polls?


In a New York Times/CBS News survey out Friday, 31 percent of Americans said the Bush administration is at fault for the current state of the economy while only 7 percent pointed their finger at President Obama and his team.

An additional 23 percent said the fault lies with Wall Street institutions while 13 percent assign the blame to Congress. Nearly 10 percent said the blame lies with all of them.



Anonymous's picture

"Nearly 10 percent said the blame lies with all of them."

I see the ZH readership was consulted on this poll as well.

Rick64's picture

Spinning numbers, I am getting so dizzy. We just layed off about 50% of our workforce and clients have backed out of orders. QE had an effect for a while and now seems to be fizzling. The orders are for 20-50 million dollar yachts, not exactly retail sales but a good indicator of how wealthy people feel.

Anonymous's picture

I´ll bet some of the wealthy are buying gold so they stay wealthy.

Anonymous's picture

East Anglia Conjured Creativity Syndrome or Domesticated Numerical PR Twister; if it walks like one and quacks like one...

“People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.”


MarketTruth's picture

"Hi, I'm from the government and here to help you."


If you truly are upset at what is transpiring, remove all funds other than what is necessary from your bank accounts, cash in all stocks and buy gold and/or silver (physical holding). This is the only way to vote with your money and send a message to the banking and investment system.

Rick64's picture

 I have and I want to do more.

Lou629's picture

I moved my cash from a tbtf to smaller local banks last year.  I'd like to do a little gold/silver too.  Who did you use, ( or would you recommend ) for PMs?

Anonymous's picture

Try You can use a credit card so if things feel amiss, you can tell your card company to cancel the charge.

waterdog's picture

I believe the government knows what it is doing and has the numbers to prove the economy is rebounding solidly and we are on our way to 6% GDP this year.


Ok, now will you guys take that stick out of my butt?


Edna R. Rider's picture

Maybe everyone is saving their money for an iPad.

Anonymous's picture

Leo Kavaslavapalavalapis as somebody just called him must be one happy camper - after all retail sales shot thru the roof !!

umop episdn's picture

Maybe we should be looking at sales taxes collected by the Feds to see what the real story is.

I don't see any upticks here, but I am unable to speak eCONomic jive very well. :-/

Anonymous's picture

In Orwell I Trust

Anonymous's picture

In Orwell I Trust

Gimp's picture

Any numbers from the party in power are for one purpose and that is to make them look good. Welcome to Ministry of Propoganda!

We're all monkeys, know your drugs.



Anonymous's picture

Just survey ebay for the consumers' appetite, eBay is the last place tapped out consumers go to - when you cannot afford new, buy the used, when the real thing is beyond reach, oder a chinese counterfeit on ebay! When even ebay finds lesser bids each passing week, wear a tin hat.

But the point remains that government data affects markets for those who trade, and the people in power makes sure the MSM blast all data release loud. we like the blogs but the majority of lazy fund managers choose to use propaganda because it suits their interests.

Anonymous's picture

Happy Face, Happy Face, Happy,Happy,Happy Face. Let's all sing it! Happy Face, Happy Face, Happy,Happy,Happy Face. All together now!! Happy Face, Happy Face, Happy,Happy,Happy Face. I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!Let's put the Happy News on all the SPECIAL UNBIASED NEWS OUTLETS!!! NOT

Postal's picture

It's not that bad, Kudrow said so...


lawrence1's picture

¨Lies, dammed lies, statistics¨... and GOVERNMENT STATISTICS

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