So the Spring Statement (http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/04/28415-there-is-spring-there-was.html) put quite an emphasis on domestic demand growth, while the retail sales data published today is not exactly encouraging.
Stripping out motor sales, and focusing on core retail sales:
- Seasonally adjusted index for value of retail sales fell from 98.0 in February 2015 to 97.1 in March 2015. March reading is now the lowest for 6 months and below the 3mo average (1Q 2015 average) of 97.7.
- Seasonally-adjusted index for volume of retail sales also fell from 107.6 in February to 106.6 in March, posting the lowest reading in 4 months.
- Meanwhile, Consumer Confidence indicator from the ESRI was up in March at 97.8 compared to February reading of 96.1.
Some more longer-range comparatives: in 4Q 2014, value index was up 0.2% compared to 3Q 2014, but in 1Q 2015 it was down 0.48% on 4Q 2014. In 4Q 2014, volume index was up 0.69% compared to 3Q 2014, but in 1Q 2015 it was down 0.25% on 4Q 2014. Again, as with monthly changes, 1Q 2015 3mo average for consumer confidence index was up 2.54% which is below 3.9% increase in the index for 4Q 2014 compared to 3Q 2014.
Looking at unadjusted series gives us year on year comparatives basis. So again, for core retail sales (ex-motors):
- Value of retail sales was up 2.34% y/y in March 2015, having previously posted a 0.77% rise in February. A large chunk (just around 1/3rd) of March 2015 increase was down to March 2014 y/y drop of 0.77%. But 2/3rds of March 2015 rise were due to organic growth. Which is good.
- Volume of retail sales rose robust 6.1% y/y in March 2015, having posted growth of 5.04% y/y in February.
- On 3mo average basis, 1Q 2015 value index is at 91.2 which is up 1.3% y/y - again, good news, as value index performance has been weak due to weak prices. Volume 1Q 2015 index was up 5.2% y/y. As usual, Consumer Confidence broke the back of both retail sales indicators, rising 15.1% in 12 months through 1Q 2015.
Summary: People are hopping mad with confidence, buying rather more stuff in volume, but only on foot of finding value in prices. This is not too boisterous, but on the net not too bad either. Monthly trends are a bit more concerning with declines in both March figures and 1Q 2015 averages.
I will look at sectoral comparatives in the next post.
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