Headline Retail Sales Steady In January, Control Group Disappointment Sparks GDP Growth Anxiety

After December's massive surge in consumer revolving debt (i.e. credit card spending), one might have expected a retail spending 'hangover' of sorts in January but headline data came in up 0.3% MoM, as expected.

Source: Bloomberg

Core retail sales (es autos/gas) rose 0.4% MoM, slightly better than the 0.3% expected.

December saw huge spikes in headline and core retail sales YoY (thanks to the stock-market-induced plunge seen in Dec 2018), and as expected the YoY gains slowed dramatically in January as the favorable comps evaporated...

Source: Bloomberg

Under the hood, 8 categories were higher, 4 lower, and notably clothing stores slumped 3.1% (due to the warm weather)...

Finally, we note that the Retail Sales Control Group - that is used for GDP calculation purposes, disappointed significantly, flat in January against expectations of a 0.3% rise...

Source: Bloomberg

The trend in that retail spending data is not good.