Adjusted February Retail Sales Rise More Than Expected As Actual Retail Sales Post First Decline In Three Years

Tyler Durden's picture

In a news release that would have been blamed on delayed tax refunds and "the weather" if it was a miss, but confirms a stronger consumer if it beat, and denies everything Wal Mart was warning about regarding February sales, today's retail sales just came stronger than expected in both the headline print (+1.1%, on expectations of a +0.5% rise), the Ex-Autos (+1.0%, Exp. 0.5%), and the Ex-autos and gas (0.4%, Exp. 0.2%). All of this of course was on a seasonally-adjusted basis (more on this shortly). This was the biggest beat of expectations since October 2011, and the biggest monthly rise in five months. The number was driven by a 5.0% jump in gasoline station sales, a 1.8% increase in Miscellaneous store retailers, a 1.6% rise in non-store retailers and a 1.1% increase in the broad retail and food services category. Declines were noted in Furniture stores (-1.6%), Electronics and Appliance stores (-0.2%), and Sporting goods and music stores (-0.9%).

So on the surface all was good. The seasonally adjusted surface. because the unadjusted headline number in February actually posted the first sequential decline since 2010, as retail sales declined from $382.4 billion to $381.0 billion: this was the first sequential decline in retail sales in the month of February in three years. Yet somehow the decline actually translated into a growth of $4.4 billion on an adjusted basis, meaning the entire beat was, once more, purely in the calendar adjustment.

The chart below shows the historical pattern in January to February retail sales changes on an adjusted and unadjusted basis. 2013 was the first time since 2009 in which a drop in actual sequential sales resulted in a surge in adjusted sales.

Bottom line: when confused, apply Arima X 12 seasonal adjustments and goalseek.

Source: Census

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SeverinSlade's picture

More great work put out by the Ministry of Truth.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Is there any rational, honest person who truly doesn't see the Main Stream Media fulfilling its role as a Proxy Propaganda Arm of the Financial-WallStreet-Bankster complex?

This really shouldn't be a surprise, given that 5 corporations own every single network, cable system, newspaper, magazine, radio station, etc. (aka "the media") in the United States.

Green Shoots, bitchez!

knukles's picture

Hah!  Even when "reporters" have decamped from on firm to another, they've told of management closely controlling the script...
How easily people forget when constantly beset upon every side with the Big Lie.


(shades of Bernays, eh... no, is Bernays...)

Divided States of America's picture

Why the fuck is there an adjusted version of everything when things are bad.

Ness.'s picture

According to LIESman, "this # is a game changer".  I about shit myself laughing so hard. 

otto skorzeny's picture

I much preferred some CNBC blowhard telling me AAPL is forming a bottom(AAPL bottom?-not on Maria)

knukles's picture

otto, I think you're on to something there....
More like a couple of world class Guiness Book of Records Humongoliod Pumpkins sittin' side by side....

ejmoosa's picture

Why are we adjusting it when we can compare directly to the same periods from one year ago?

And if we use rolling 12 month averages, we will have a very clear directiion of the trends with no need for an adjustment ever.


if the weatherman seasonally adjusted today's temperature for me, would I feel warmer?

McMolotov's picture

The goal here is to get people to think it's warmer even when it's not, because then everyone will feel better. Those who point out that it's cold are thought of as loonies.

People know things aren't getting better, but they hear so many stories of improvement that they begin to doubt themselves. Eventually they hold both ideas in their head but act on the one the State wants, precisely the kind of double-think Orwell predicted.

newworldorder's picture

Dont be silly. The adjustment is the half lie that people wont catch. Leaving it with no adjustment would expose the lie so big that most people would catch on eventualy.

Being Free's picture

dissonance reduction ...

Some men see things as they are and ask why, TPTB see things as they are and say "Fuck it, just adjust the numbers."

Mister Ponzi's picture

There's more. Given that this number is *nominal* not real, any increase can theoretically be attributable to increase in prices - not in sold quantities. In fact, given record high gasoline prices and the huge increase in gas sales one can suspect that *real* retail sales are actually much lower.

insanelysane's picture

Exactly.  If a box of Froot Loops cost me $3 last February and then cost me $5 this February, the statistics show that I spent $2 more dollars year over year.  Bullish except that I still only have 1 box of Froot Loops (with fewer loops and no fruit) to show for my "increased" spending.

duo's picture

didn't Dick's say overpriced Nike t-shirts and shoes were flying off the shelves?

youngman's picture

Under Armor is a better deal...the new NIKE I think...

TruthInSunshine's picture

Dick's Sporting Goods said that their sales of camping, hunting and outdoor gear were severely and adversely impacted by some rainy days, some cool days, some warmer days, and some windy days, because people that tend to buy such goods don't like going out when it rains, is cool, is warm, or is windy.

knukles's picture

Sounds like they're all member of the Free Shit Army who just like to sit around, mint juleps in hand on their front porches and...

See, this kind of excuse shit just makes normal people like me start thinking dubious thoughts about many of my fellow man...

Cdad's picture

Cdad's proprietary BlowHorn [CNBC] Unwatchable Indicator is now +100%.  Prolonged exposure to BlowHorn programming with the indicator at this level is certain to impair judgement, and the possibility of permanent brain damage rises considerably.  The only known near term remedy for this situation is aggressive muting, and equally aggressive ZH article consumption.  A more permanent remedy is market plunging....



otto skorzeny's picture

as much as CNBC cheerleads this shitshow-the only ratings increase they would get is from a major selloff(2-3% range LOL)

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

TruthInSunshine asked:

Is there any rational, honest person who truly doesn't see the Main Stream Media fulfilling its role as a Proxy Propaganda Arm of the Financial-WallStreet-Bankster complex?

They're the LIBORal media.

knukles's picture

Just like "Home sales Booming across the board." meme....
And BofA laying off real estate appraisers for lack of work

Booming my ass.

20834A's picture

And mtg applications fell on the week. 76% were refi's?! Lotta home-buying not going on:

The total number of mortgage applications filed in the U.S. last week slipped 4.3% as interest rates increased, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

The refinance index fell 5.2% for the week ended March 8 from the previous week, according to MBA's weekly survey, which covers more than three-quarters of all U.S. residential-mortgage applications. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the purchasing index was down 2.5% from the prior week, MBA said.

Low interest rates have attracted new buyers and persuaded many homeowners to refinance their existing mortgages. However, tightened credit restrictions still bar many borrowers from filing loan applications.

The share of applications filed to refinance an existing mortgage was 76%, while adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMS, made up 4.5% of total activity.

pods's picture

There has never been a better time to buy a house.

Magic box told me so!


TruthInSunshine's picture

Lest anyone forget, The 'It's Always The Best Time To Buy A House' National Association of Realtors did a mild revision to their 2007 through 2010 housing sales data recently, adjusting the number of home sales it previously reported downward by 3 million transactions.

Uh, yeeeeah, about those NAR reported sales...

pods's picture

Missed it by > < much.

Or for Major League fans, the first offering was just a bit outside.


yogibear's picture

Chearleading big time to keep the mis-information game going. 


In general the boost was from cars (lowered lending standards)  and clothes (much colder weather, later) , in short.  Nothing here that tells one of  housing  that was booming.

insanelysane's picture

The weather isn't colder!!!  People are buying warmer clothing because they can't afford to heat their homes!!!

wonger's picture

Hi, im in the UK, ive just signed up after months of just reading, first question is

what was the point of lying about retail sales data if they didnt buy the futures at the same time creating a spike up?

were quite heavily down in UK  on ftse, have been all morning, so are you going to ramp up in last hour of trade due to retails sales which were 7 hours earlier? lol



pods's picture

Welcome to Fight Club!

As to your question, I think that it can be explained in that all of these efforts are not orchestrated.  There is a general "good initial, fix later" to economic data.

As to futures, IMHO that is not a concerted everyday effort.  Maybe hold certain key levels, but they (NY FED) does not need Kevin to hit buy all the time. Remember there is a gajillion bucks in funny money chasing yield all over.  All that liquidity is like water in a wide flat pan.  You are carrying that pan from place to place and as it tilts, that water goes sloshing around all over. Each time you try to correct it, there is a chance you can do further damage and reinforce the waves.  Imagine four people trying to carry that pan in a race.

That is where we are now.


Scro's picture

Welcome to ZH. You just received your first down vote.

Winston Churchill's picture

Welcome to fight club,from an expat in Florida.

The Footsie is adjusted for cold/wet/warm weather.The Dow according to Ben's

itching haemorroids.

Makes as much sense as anything else in the 'markets' today.


Son of Loki's picture

I did my share for retail; I bought a woolen (blend) winter cap for $2.00...list price used to be $35.00.


You guys need to chipin...bunch of Deadbeats here.....

ArkansasAngie's picture

Animal spirits to the rescue.  If you don't get the numbers you want in the real data ... why just change them.  After all in MMT terms it's all about confidence.

What a crock of oderiferous material.

ArkansasAngie's picture

Maybe Walmart et al should start adjusting their numbers, too.  Afterall ... it isn't really lying when the government has your back.

insanelysane's picture

But the government will make them pay taxes on all of the "adjusted" revenue.

ArkansasAngie's picture

Nah ... companies don't pay taxes -- only suckers who can't afford to pay for lobbysts pay taxes.

TruthInSunshine's picture

 "After all in MMT terms it's all about confidence."

Indeed, Angie. Indeed.

They're pulling out the desperate tricks to pull as many Muppets into the food processor as quickly as they can. The "Great Rotation" will come from the sound of the "liquify" button being pushed.

the not so mighty maximiza's picture

a little fibbin goes a long way.

GrinandBearit's picture

Notice how they include gasoline in retail sales, but exclude it from inflation data. 


SheepDog-One's picture

220....221...hey whatever works!

Ness.'s picture

I'll either be at the gym or the gun club.

Meat Hammer's picture

Wanna beer?

 -It's 7 o'clock in the morning!


NoDebt's picture

Damned straight.  Best comment of the thread.

q99x2's picture

When it gets bad you've got to lie.

My tow truck operator friend reported an increase in people stranded out of gas on the LA freeways last week and more AA shares about being layed off in the meetings.

In SoCal we've driven off a bridge to nowhere.

Test tonight in college. Got to get it anyway you can around here.