March Retail Slide, Miss Expectations, Post Biggest Drop Since June

Tyler Durden's picture

Add retail sales to the ongoing economic US crunch, which, just as predicted here in February, would start taking place once the regular seasonal adjustment rotation out of the "strong" winter season into spring started and once the now annual European swoon in the spring spread to the US, as it always does.

Sure enough, March retail sales missed across the board, with headline down -0.4% (exp. 0.0%, Feb revised lower to 1.0%), ex autos down -0.4% as well (exp. 0.0%, last 1.0%), and ex autos and gas -0.1, on expectations of a +0.3%. This was the biggest miss ex autos since June and the biggest drop since June as well. More troubling perhaps for the true strength of the US consumer, electronics sales dumped -3.2% Y/Y (confirms the collapse in PC sales reported yesterday), while general merchandise sales declined by 4.9% year over year. As we have said all along, the US consumer - that very levered driver of 70% of US GDP - even when factoring in the trillion + in student loans, is getting very much tapped out. But at least car sales, funded by the still very generous Federal Reserve and Uncle Sam, of course, are merrily chugging along at a +6.5% Y/Y pace.


And a breakdown by sale category:

Cue scapegoating of the weather, Easter, sequester and Cyprus any second now...

And of course, if this doesn't send the S&P to new all time highs, nothing can goose this ridiculous, manipulated market.

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TeamDepends's picture

And the DOW's at an all-time high!  Time to get IN!

GetZeeGold's picture



Bullish for stawks!


Use the power of the normalcy bias force.

TeamDepends's picture

It is truly shocking, isn't it?  "Can't happen here/again."

mdtrader's picture

They all rushed into equities just in time for the correction!

pods's picture

Fucking El Nino!

Or is it La Nina?



Shizzmoney's picture

Lets buy some houses and stocks, guys!

I mean they can't bullshit forever, can they? 

New England Patriot's picture

That's okay. Americans have enough extra crap to last for years. 

fonzannoon's picture

"I fucking told you so!"

 - ex walmart email guy

Cursive's picture


You made me laugh out loud again.  Would be totally awesome to set up a twitter account for the "ex walmart email guy".

fonzannoon's picture

That would be awesome. ADR is just as good.

Jason T's picture

having him tweet that would be gold .. gold jerry.

Headbanger's picture

Good one!   Would love to see "Ex-WalMart E-Mail Guy" do a funny YouTube video saying that

Cursive's picture

Fuck you Windows 8!  You are ruining the economy!  /sarc


ETA:  I'm sure the talking point on CNBS will be a faulty seasonal adjustment for the early Easter.

B2u's picture

No risk.  Time to leverage more into stocks !!!

d edwards's picture

The 0blama steath depression continues.

GetZeeGold's picture



Which explains the steath boom in modern sporting rifles and ammo?

ptoemmes's picture

Good point.  They report "ex autos" - gotta wonder about "ex firearms".

GetZeeGold's picture



I have a friend that works for an ammo manufacturer. 60 hour work week is mandatory.

pods's picture

And some are fighting back.  PTR91 is moving from the God forsaken dump they are in.
Now having them in NC, that would be nice.


kw2012's picture

That 3.0% will be 1.5% by the time the revisions are done. Meanwhile, packaging at the grocery stores continue to shrink, but not the prices.


The only deflation I see anymore if flat panel tv's and even they seem to have stopped dropping.

new game's picture

so i should sell my blazer 9mm 350 packs? at 175 per up only 90 percent, hmm, tough decisions

oh, thats right i'm in for the long haul...

Confundido's picture

The positive, mainstream view: "The 0.4% m/m fall in US retail sales in March won’t stop annualised real consumption from rising by between 2.5% and 3.0% in the first quarter, but it does suggest that growth in the second quarter will be more lacklustre. Gasoline station sales and auto sales both fell, by 2.2% m/m and 0.6% respectively. And building materials sales rose by just 0.1%. More important was the 0.2% drop in sales of all other items. This was worse than our forecast of a 0.3% rise and was the first fall since sales were hit by Superstorm Sandy in October. The prospect of annualised real consumption in the first quarter of between 2.5% and 3.0% is weaker than the 3.0% to 3.5% we previously estimtated. Overall GDP may still have risen by close to 3.0%, though. It is perhaps telling that a lot of the weakness in March was in sales of discretionary items – electronics fells by 1.6%, leisure goods dipped by 0.8% and department store sales dropped by 1.1%. This suggests that the payroll tax hike and previous leap in gasoline prices is forcing households to pull back. Coming on the back of the weakening in the ISM surveys and payrolls data in March, the economy appears to have lost some momentum. But with gasoline prices now falling, we don’t expect too sharp a slowdown."


All is well, folks. Nothing to see here. Move on! Come on, move on!

Dr. Engali's picture

When you walk into a Walmart on Friday night and you have cashiers hanging out in front of their check out lines chatting while they wait for somebody to cash out, you know things are going to be bad.

Smegley Wanxalot's picture

Actually, it's doubly bad if you need to go to Walmart on a Friday night to look for chicks.

adr's picture

Hey, those chicks with EBT probably make more than you do. Sugar Welfare Mommas.

Hubbs's picture

I've noticed this too at my local Wal Mart. Would be interesting to check up the volume of shoppers  at midnight at the end of the month with the EBT reload.

Doyle Hargraves's picture

It used to be horrendously long lines around here at the end of the month (I work swing shift so I got to see it), Now 2 out of the 4 Wal Marts here where I am at close at midnight instead of 24/7 operation. Kind of interesting considering SoCal is the welfare hub of the nation, why would the world's biggest retailer NOT want to make money ASAP before shoppers could blow it on drugs, alcohol, and strippers?!

Disenchanted's picture

Probably more "shrink" at those 2 locations than sales during those night time hours...

Are they in what could be termed dangerous areas, or high crime hoods?

Headbanger's picture

Wonder how much worse it is ex-firearm sales?

kw2012's picture

Ahahaha Good One! 35 sold a minute, that's about 1 billion a month if you assume a very modest $600 per purchase.

Smegley Wanxalot's picture

Retail sales would explode if the Bernank would only print more money.  Fuck you, Ben, for being so stingy with the ink.

The Dancer's picture

and now wholesale prices down down $30....deflation 1st and then mega-printing....

orangedrinkandchips's picture

Kevin Henry has PUT IN THE BOTTOM.....BTFD....




Doyle Hargraves's picture

Cannot wait until that stands for something else...Beat The F*ck Down. Where stocks would be if not for Ben/Kevin and their magical well of ink. This sh*t has become so detached from reality.

Headbanger's picture

And what does this do to "money velocity" which has been plummetting lately??

deerhunter's picture

silver soon to be worth less than bullets????  Maybe free silver.  My average cost per ounce is in the low 30's.  Maybe silver bullets cheaper to make than lead soon?    Just kidding,  great buying opportunity in silver today.  LCS visit planned.  Bought my first gold the other day,  1/10 oz philharmonic.  That is one small coin.  New ASE's 3.50 over spot.  That is good price I guess from the feedback from the site here.  4G's here,  God, guns, guts and a garden. 

scatterbrains's picture

This is great news for the high end markets represented by reits like SPG which is up 70% above it's 07 bubble highs and 700% from the 09 lows.  It means Benny's plan to destroy the middle class and separate the .01% by orders of magnitude from the rest of the country is working. Look for mall space reits to re-double again from here. 

Edward Fiatski's picture

Rec-c-ov-v-ery S-s-um-mer.

Coming to a planet, near YOU!

asscannon101's picture

Yeah, but WalMart sure found a way to address their sales slump- they fired the poor bastard who had balls enough to call it like it was. Nothing like killing the messenger to encourage group-think within an organization. Success!! Didn't Demming say something about, "driving out fear"? They won't hear another negative report for quite some time and future conference calls will sound like a fucking echo-chamber of the bosses' hopes and stupid ideas. Now cue the corporate ass-vampires, who will swoop in at meetings and vie for the best opportunity to suckle at the bosses' hemmoroids to become the next 'Golden Boy'. American Management at its finest...

Disenchanted's picture

All that(group think and echo chambers, etc.) was happening before the slump.

dobermangang's picture

Ben must be reading all the posts and giving everybody a thumbs down.

Start those printers Ben!

King Dong's picture

The consumer is not just tapped out but bored of consumerism. This is an existential crisis with a fading economic model

Doyle Hargraves's picture

Well the interesting part of this is item 454, which has double digit gains. I think it is safe to say maybe the brick and mortar mega chains may be the dinosaurs destined for extinction, is the definition of non-store retailers from the Census/Commerce Department website:

(2) Non-store retailers -- those selling by other means -- include:

Mail order houses

Vending machine operators

Telemarketing sales

Home delivery (e.g., milk, newspapers)

Door-to-door sales

Party plans

Electronic shopping

Sales through temporary stands or stalls

Amazon, swap meets, flea markets, and other street fairs Bitchez!

adr's picture

I had an interesting conversation with my marketing people. Our sales fell across multiple SKUs. However the percentage of total sales of one SKU increased from 23% to 32%.

The marketing people saw this as increased demand for that SKU and wanted to throw money at advertising it. Thinking that must be the direction the consumer is going in.

I asked, "Did total units sold increase? Or did the percentage of sales go up because the sales of our most popular SKUs went down?"

They gave me a puzzled look. I aksed them to give me the total sales numbers. Sure enough the sales of the product were less than last quarter, sales of the other SKUs had greater declines.

I told the marketing department that we might want to focus on the product that makes 68% of our money instead of the product that makes 32% of our money.
To your point, even in there are double digit gains in non-store retail. Those gains are easily eclipsed by declines in traditional retail. E-commerce is also an employment nuclear bomb. Unless the future economic model we want is robotic shipping of chinese made product direct to the doors of EBT card holders.

Doyle Hargraves's picture

Yeah, I see your point, however, there is growth in ecommerce as well as non traditional retail commerce. Though it MAY be eclipsed by the overall decline, it is the way of the future. I for one would rather sit in my home and get what I need through e commerce than go wait around some big box and watch the masses blow my tax dollars. Not saying everyone is like me, I for one, am not on EBT and rarely buy sh*t from China directly when I can get an item gently used for less through amazon or another source. Same with street fairs/swap meets/flea markets/gun shows. Why go to a traditional retailer when you can be smarter with your money? As far as the employment nuclear bomb goes well many other 'industries' have been employment nukes. See the housing collapse and the soon to be higher education collapse. If we don't make 'stuff' here, (manufacturing nuke already detonated), which is mostly the case save gasoline and food, then where is the loss of jobs except through the large store chains? The consumption model is dead, and your argument seems to be predicated on saving that model. We are in a depression, and as such, old models of large, centralized retailers being nationwide for the most part, will die. JC Penney, Sears, etc. People have less money but must maintain a standard of living. Non store retail seems to be a better alternative to me and countless others judging by the numbers, besides that, non store retail is largely a main street helper. Non store retail are small businesses set up at street fairs and swap meets to online retailers. I actually hope it is a model we embrace as it would do in our 'corporate masters'.

Temporalist's picture

Does making consumer debt zombies and predatory rent seeking corporations count as "stuff"?  How about apps?  Apps are stuff surely and everyone needs those.  How did people exist without apps for their car insurance?  I spend 9-18 hours a day looking at my car insurance app. 

mess nonster's picture

If you hung around the rural Northwest in the 80's and 90's you probably went to a Barter Faire...

Dreads, dope, organic homemade kimchee, and reggae music, all for trade, no cash.

The IRS came in a shut them all down, in concert with the county gummits.

Now the old hippies stare myopically at their smartphones, and wonder how to use the magical device they hold.


Hubbs's picture

As long as the USD is a recognized "currency", it seems to me the stock market can be levitated indefinitely by the FED.


When the currency has nowhere else to go (even PMs?), the only place of refuge is the stock market, where stocks (paper certificates) are valued in terms of other paper certificates (fiat dollars).

thismarketisrigged's picture

was anyone watching cnbc live when santeli was going over the retail and ppi numbers?


they were showing the dow futures as he was talking, and cnbc printed a show of dow futures down 14,700 pts, and the dow at 6.00 pts, down 99.99 percent


if only that were the case, as it should be in this economy.


how the fuck is the market not down triple digits today at open? such a fucking mother fucking joke. arrest bernanke and all of the fed and wall st, and impeach obama, please