Sunday, September 29, 2013

29/9/2013: Irish Retail Sales: August 2013

Retail Sales Index data was out last week and this is an update on series through August 2013.

From the top (excluding motor sales), 
  • Retail sales activity by value declined from 97.4 in July to 96.0 in August 2013. Current 3mo MA is 96.1 which is still ahead of the 3mo MA through May 2013 at 95.2. Year on year August 2013 reading was down 0.21%. 6mo MA is a 95.7 which is lower than 6mo MA through February 2013 at 96.7. 
  • Value reading in August 2013 stood at exactly the 12mo average for 2012 and 3.47% below annual average for 2005. Crisis period average is 100.6 which is significantly higher than the August reading and 3mo MA reading through August and 6mo MA arcading through August.
  • Retail sales activity by volume remained largely unchanged (statistically) between July (100.9) and August (100.7). Current 3mo MA is 100.3 which is ahead of 99.1 3mo MA through May 2013. Year on year the index is up 1.31%. However, 6mo MA through August at 99.7 was lower than 6mo MA through february 2013 (100.4).
  • Volume reading in August 2013 was 2.22% below crisis period average and 2.22% ahead of 2005 average.

The above figures illustrate the extent of deflation in the sector, where volume activity stayed more buoyant than value activity. Which means retailers have been burning through margins for a good part of five years now. There is severe doubt as to whether there are any profit margins left in the sector. 

Meanwhile, Consumer Confidence indicator is moving sideways, as ever detached from reality. ESRI's Consumer Confidence Index in August 2013 stood at 66.8, only slightly catching up to the downside with the overall retail trade stats, declining from 68.2 in July. CCI is now at blistering 68.5 3mo MA which is massively up on 60.0 3mo MA through May 2013. Year on year the CCI is down 4.6% signalling the index desperate attempt to claw back toward reflecting the trends in the sector.

However, as the chart below clearly shows, the Consumer Confidence Index continues to show no signs of coinciding with the broader retail sector trends.

To remind you, crisis-period correlations between CCI and retail sales are negative: -0.70 for correlation with Value of sales and -0.59 for correlation with Volume of sales. The CCI used to perform better in pre-crisis period, when strong trend in sales was evident. 

My own Retail Sales Activity Index (a composite of there measures weighted by relevance to employment and revenue generation) dipped slightly to 109.4 in August from 110.7 in July. The index is down 0.75% y/y. 3mo MA is at 110.0 in August and this is above 105.9 3mo MA through May 2013. RSAI has modest positive correlation with crisis-period data: value at 0.59 and volume at 0.63.

Overall: weak data for August, despite the fact that pre-school season was running at the time when weather did not impede shopping and given that overseas travel for summer breaks was low this year once again. September will be more important to watch to see how the sales and confidence are moving in advance of key shopping season in November-December.

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