Friday, August 30, 2013

30/8/2013: Retail Sales Dynamics: July 2013

Retails sales stats for July 2013 were released yesterday amidst a torrent of data releases for Ireland this week. With slight delay, here's my take on the core numbers. All referencing seasonally-adjusted data.

Core (ex-Motors) retail sales improved in value in July on seasonally-adjusted based, posting a rise of 2.32% m/m and 1.46% y/y.

  • Current 3mo MA is at 95.9 - which means that value of sales is running at 4.1 percentage points below 2005 levels of activity. Previous 3mo MA was 95.5, which means the over the last 3 months there was virtually no growth in the value of retail sales compared to 3 months prior.
  • Current 6mo MA is at 95.7 and this compares to higher 6mo MA for the previous period which stood at 96.8. In other words, last 6 months activity in retail sales, as measured by value, was lower than previous 6 months period.

Core (ex-Motors) retail sales improved in volume in July on seasonally-adjusted based, posting a rise of 1.31% m/m and the same y/y.

  • Current 3mo MA is at 99.9 - which means that volume of sales is running at 0.1 percentage points below 2005 levels of activity. Previous 3mo MA was 99.2, which means the over the last 3 months there was some growth in the volume of retail sales compared to 3 months prior.
  • Current 6mo MA is at 99.6 and this compares to higher 6mo MA reading for the previous period which stood at 100.5. In other words, last 6 months activity in retail sales, as measured by volume, was lower than previous 6 months period.
Meanwhile - a reminder - Consumer Confidence, measured by the ESRI has deteriorated m/m by 3.40% and there was a marginal rise of 0.74% y/y.
  • Current 3mo MA is at 66.7 - which means that consumer confidence over the last 3 months period is running ahead of previous 3mo MA of 59.4. Broadly-speaking Consumer Confidence indicator moved in-line with core retail sales in value and volume over the 3mo periods.
  • Current 6mo MA reading for Consumer Confidence is at 63.1 and this compares to lower 6mo MA reading for the previous period which stood at 59.8. In other words, Consumer Confidence continues to countermove vis-a-vis retail sales indices on 6mo average basis.
Couple of charts. First one illustrates three core indicators:

 
Chart above continues to show generally negative correlation between actual retail sales and Consumer Confidence indicator, as well as the general flat-line trend in the retail sales series for both indices over the last 20-21 months.

Next, relationship between Consumer Confidence and retail sales indices:



Lastly, my own Retail Sector Activity Index (RSAI) that take into the account dynamics and levels of all three indices: CSO's Retail Sales Indices (Value and Volume) and ESRI's Consumer Confidence index:


Per above, RSAI continues to run within the broad confines of the flat-trend average, with uptick in July being much flatter than in previous months.

Note: here are correlations between all four measures of retail sector activity health:

Summary conclusion: things are improving, but the sustainability of improvement is questionable, with 3mo averages divergent from 6mo averages. Consumer Confidence remains largely irrelevant to actual outcomes delivered by the sector. The base of activity remains low and we are now into 5 years-plus of effectively unchanging 'bouncing along the bottom' activity. 
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