September Retail Sales: Seasonal vs Non-Seasonal - Spot The Difference

Tyler Durden's picture

Just when we thought we may finally get one decent economic data point which even we could get excited about, we decided to look at the Non-Seasonally Adjusted September retail sales data. After all the $4.7 billion seasonal increase in headline retail sales was the second highest ever (in absolute terms, second only to 2004). Turns out our curiosity was an enthusiasm-dowsing mistake, as a number which on the surface looked good, was hardly validated by the Not-Seasonally Adjusted number, which plunged by $31.9 billion. How does this September sequential change compare to previous years? See the chart below and decide for yourselves if the massive NSA plunge in September 2012 merits the second best seasonally adjusted retail sales increase in history.

If anything, the 2012 spread of SA vs NSA retail change is most comparable to that from September 2007. As a reminder, this is 2 months before the 2nd Great Depression officially started.

Source: St Louis Fed

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LawsofPhysics's picture

Ever wonder why fuel sales count towards retail sales and other "good" measures of economic activity, but does not count in the "official" calculation of inflation?   The hypocracy is on full display sheeple.

GetZeeGold's picture



Total transformation is freakin awesome.


Sudden Debt's picture

gotta make it look good :)

look this is why high fuel prices are good:

High oil prices => higher revenue for the oil exporting countries => they buy US gold and weapons of mass destruction => war => good television => higher advertising revenue for TV stations => more money for more cartoons => profits for Hollywood....


LawsofPhysics's picture

and the nobel prize in eCONomics is awarded to two professors for successful eCONomic "engineering".  LMFAO!!!  Can't wait to see the tyler's comments on this.

GetZeeGold's picture



Energy prices will necessarily rise.......four more years. Hopefully the death panels will put us out of our misery shortly after that.


El Viejo's picture

Laws of Physics:


Is it because I have to drive to the store to cash my food stamps???

WatchingIgnorance's picture

We are blowing right past just typical lies and are entering full retard mode.

The only ones safe will be the ones with helmets . . .

JPM Hater001's picture

But i thought we fixed everything.

Someone get Ben on the horn will ya?

Jason T's picture

Great work Guys/Gals!



Cursive's picture

If the raw number for every September since 2007 has been solidly negative, wouldn't a rational person conclude that September is seasonally negative?  Furthermore, wouldn't a rational person assume that an effort to make the seasonally adjusted number either positive or at least 0 (but never negative) suggests some kind of cover-up?

DOT's picture

Sheesh !  Didn't you pay attention in school ? This is "New Math", where the answer is not as important as how one feels about the answer. Think "Hopefull Statistics", "Delightfull Derivitives", or anything that may please you. The answer is not the answer anymore.

tbone654's picture

I guess it's an opportunity...

Richard Chesler's picture

The technical term is "Banana Republic Statistics".


Sauk Leader's picture

This month had (5) full shopping weekends in it. Correct me if I am wrong shouldnt the NSA look a little better than that? how is the SA math producing a positive number when if anything there should be a downward revision to compensate for the extra days?

MilleniumJane's picture

I know.  The numbers just don't add up to reality, do they?  I prefer to rely on my experiences and observations.  There are more and more people living hand-to-mouth, even worse than before. 

-I see co-workers and family members using credit cards to pay for groceries, gas and medical bills. 

-I see customers who pick up an item for sale in the showroom at where I work and drop said item like a hot potato when they see the price.  Due to the increased costs of raw materials and labor overseas, the owners of the company have doubled prices in the last year.  Sales numbers have dropped through the floor and it is getting harder and harder to close sales of serious buyers. 

-I meet at least two new people every week who are looking for work and want to drop off their applications and resumes.  There are 3 faithful and desperate people who have applied and come in at least once a week to see what's up.  I don't know what to tell them.  The owners of the company are arguing between themselves.  One wants to hire a couple of people, another wants a freeze.  The positions have been officially open for eight weeks now.  Our inbox always has at least six new applicants per day.

-I meet at least four people every week who are looking to sell their antiques and jewelry on consignment.  When told no, they always ask if we know of any other businesses who would buy the stuff.

-Once a week there is always at least one person who asks if we have a layaway plan.  Even more ask if we are going to have any sales (one of the owners of the company has a strict "no sales" rule).

-When machinery and office equipment break down, the owners refuse to buy new or pay for repairs until it becomes apparent that we absolutely need it.  Our server to our website is on its last legs and our POS system is from 1986.  The last update for the POS was in 2001.

-We workers have not had a raise in 4 years and as the company has downsized, our workload has grown exponentially.

-I know at least two couples who want to file for bankruptcy but cannot afford to file the paperwork.

I live in a tourist town of about 7500 people.  Welcome to the new reality.

Artemis Fact's picture

I think I am beginning to understand what this global worming is all about- it's cooking the seasonal books!

Artemis Fact's picture

I think I am beginning to understand what this global worming is all about- it's cooking the seasonal books!

insanelysane's picture

Previous month's number was revised down to below 1% as will this month's number.

MiltonFriedmansNightmare's picture

Ministry of Truth hard at work, burning the midnight oil.

Dr. Engali's picture

Red is bad right?

GetZeeGold's picture



Thank goodness we can just flyover that crap.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"See the chart below and decide for yourselves if the massive NSA plunge in September 2012 merits the second best seasonally adjusted retail sales increase in history."

Yes, I do believe that the National Security Agency (NSA) had something to do with these fake economic numbers.....and not just the recent ones. It has been a national security "issues" since well before 9/11 to prop up the numbers so that the sleeping masses won't be too alarmed.

<Oh, well it must just be me that is suffering financially since everyone else seems to be doing alright.>

101 years and counting's picture

obviously, the mistake being made is printing the non SA numbers.  i assume the BLS/liars will stop printing real numbers soon.

adr's picture

When I looked at the number and saw they added almost $36 billion to the number to get the 1.1% increase, I almost shit my pants.

There is data fudging and then there is just pulling any number out of your ass that you can to make it look good for your boss.

AN adjustment of $36 billion to the upside? The real numbers show September to be a disaster. Seeing how fast they are ramping up Christmas stuff this year, it looks like October is going to be even worse.

DOT's picture

Don't shit yourself; pee, then you can get the  trickle down.

pods's picture

A couple weeks ago I needed a can of Great Stuff so I ran into the local Wallyworld as it is not too far away.  When cutting through the garden section I noticed that the Christmas trees were out.  WTF?


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Just pulling forward demand bro. No problem.

Besides, here in the land of milk and honey (who needs freedom) it's Christmas every day.

Dr. Engali's picture

Funny you said that pods. My 5 year old daughter and I went shopping two weeks ago and they had the trees out. Her comment was.."dad it's not even halloween yet. Why do they have the Christmas decorations out already?"

Sauk Leader's picture

I am giving the trick or treaters candy canes and Santa Pez this Halloween.

Nobody For President's picture

Dr E, you have obviously been educating your child in the ways of TPTB.

Stop that! Mindless consumers are not needed, they are necessary.

adr's picture

My local Walmart looks like it is Dec 1st, not the middle of October. They even skipped over Halloween. There is one half aisle of candy and no costumes. I have never seen that before.

I guess now is as good as a time as any to remind that I was told by a senior Walmart buyer that the holiday buys were cut 40% across the board. Kind of hard to sell more than last year when you didn't buy as much.

But I am sure the government data fudgers will be able to turn 40% less into a 20% YoY gain.

insanelysane's picture

I almost crapped when I went into a small store 2 weeks ago and they had cleared the shelves and were starting to put Christmas lights out.  Retailers are in full panic mode.

ptoemmes's picture

I think it may be called goal seeking....

RingToneDeaf's picture

Hope you all are buying stuff you will need like food, toilet paper and a safe place to go when it all starts to come unraveled.

Just another prepper.

Been telling people who are not getting ready that they should not come to our place when it all comes down.

ceilidh_trail's picture

Prolly best not to say anything. Push comes to shove, you'll be out and they'll be in...

takinthehighway's picture

There was an article in Survivalblog a little while back which touched on the problem of unwanted people showing up at your door when TSHTF. Few people would have a problem shooting at gangs and such...but what about your neighbor you grilled out with and whose kids play with yours? Are you really prepared to have to turn away someone you considered a friend; can you deny food to hungry, crying children? Granted, you tried to get your neighbor to start preparing and spend money on foodstocks instead of iCrap...but that was then and this is now. Even the ones you've made allowance for in your plans...what about the folks they bring with them unasked?

I know that a complete teardown of the mess we have now is necessary...but it ain't gonna be pretty or fun.

El's picture

This is crazy.

BudFox2012's picture

No, this is just the new normal.  Insanity and lies seems to be spreading exponentially.

pods's picture

These numbers are a microcosm of our pulling forward demand society.  September is the hangover month for all the back to school shopping done in August.  

Just a snapshot of our society as a whole.  Of course, the time is coming when you cannot pull forward any more demand.  And we are fast approaching that ceiling.  I would argue that we have already hit it and have been banging our heads against it for years.


Nobody For President's picture

I believe the current Christmas stuff going up is pulling forward xmas 2013.

cnmcdee's picture

The Baltic Dry Index has been down for the duration of 2012, and it accurately foreshadowed the 2008 market collapse by about 8 months.

If businesses are ordering less through the global supply chains, their numbers are going to be down, and this is going to eventually show up in the Retail Sales reports.

It's the perfect time to short the DOW as a major correction is teetering on the edge.  Some basic reasons why.

1. Baltic Dry Index is WAY DOWN meaning greatly reduced economic activity - therefore outside of the PPT holding up the DOW, what else is?

2. QEinfinity is already priced into the markets before it's announcment.

3. A possible double whammy could hit the US markets.  Falling DOW prices, coupled with dilution of the US dollar would steer away international investors and trigger a possible stampede for the exits.  If this hits a critical juncture then you could see the institutionals begin to cash out their DOW positions as well, coupling with the breakage of hegemonic control of oil for US currecncy by

4.  The last deer standing staring at the oncoming semi-truck will be the joe investor.  Always the last to know and the first to hit...

Short the DOW Bitchez!!! 


Village Smithy's picture

At some point in the near future "a few individuals acting on their own initiative, without the knowledge or approval of the Department" will be discovered "after a thorough investigation" to have been tampering with the data. And I am definitely not naive enough to think it's an administration specific corruption. The rot runs deep.

Lightnin&#039; Lives's picture

Curious to see what this trend looks like prior to 2007. I think that we're in too close on this one. Let's zoom back a bit and get some truly historical perspective...

haskelslocal's picture

Seems to be habitual of the provider of these charts. He's not one to go back more than a few ticks.

Interesting thing is that, regardless of the spread, it is interesting to note that 2012 is more like 2007 and I'm sure some economist would be willing to say this is a good sign and not the prognosticator of impending doom.

Tyler Durden's picture

Actually, the source data is provided (see that little gray hyperlink? Clicking on it will burn at most 1 calorie so it should be a largely non-stressful event). But for those lazy to do any diligence on their own here it is - back enough?