Retail sales fall in May

posted at 9:21 am on June 13, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

In the latest sign that we’re heading into a third straight Wreckovery Summer, retail sales fell in May by 0.2%, and the previously-announced 0.1% gain in April got revised downward to a 0.2% drop in that month, as well.  But don’t worry — the private sector is doing fine:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $404.6 billion, a decrease of 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from the previous month, but 5.3 percent (±0.7%) above May 2011. Total sales for the March through May 2012 period were up 5.7 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The March to April 2012 percent change was revised from 0.1 percent (±0.5)* to -0.2 percent (±0.2%)*.

Retail trade sales were down 0.2 percent (±0.5%)* from April 2012, but 5.0 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Nonstore retailers sales were up 12.4 percent (±3.1%) from May 2011 and motor vehicles and parts dealers were up 10.0 percent (±2.1%) from last year.

Reuters reported the results, but only at the bottom of an article that leads with falling fuel prices as a sign that inflation is “easing”:

U.S. producer prices fell sharply in May and retail sales posted their biggest decline in two years amid falling energy prices, a sign of easing inflation pressures that could give the Federal Reserve more room to help the economy should growth weaken.

Producer prices skidded as energy costs dropped the most in over three years.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday its seasonally adjusted producer price index dropped 1 percent last month.

The drop was mostly due to a 4.3 percent decline in energy prices, the biggest drop since March 2009. Europe’s debt crisis is threatening global economic growth, pushing oil prices lower.

Commodity prices decline for two reasons — increased production or decreased demand.  Oil prices have been falling over the last few weeks because of declining demand.  That’s not a good sign; it’s an indicator that we may be heading toward another recession.  While falling prices benefit consumers, consumers seem unwilling to take advantage of the opportunity, choosing to shield their disposable income ahead of a perceived storm.

That explains the other report from Reuters, this time from their poll on the US presidential election.  Obama’s overall job approval rating has declined over the last month, but not as fast as his approval rating on the economy, and Mitt Romney is gaining on him:

President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have dipped to their lowest level since January on deep economic worries, wiping out most of his lead in the White House race over Republican rival Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday.

The percentage of Americans who approve of Obama’s job performance dropped from 50 a month ago to 47, matching his mark in early January. The number who think the country is on the wrong track rose 6 percentage points in a month to 63 percent.

The doubts about Obama’s leadership helped Romney pull to within 1 point of the Democratic president in the White House race – 45 percent to 44 percent – among registered voters with less than five months to go before the November 6 election. Obama led by 7 points a month ago.

Reuters doesn’t provide a link to their data, so it’s impossible to analyze how accurate their sample might be.  It’s worth noting that Obama’s 7-point lead last month was an outlier even at that time.  If Reuters has this as a dead heat, assuming that their sampling splits haven’t changed, it’s safe to say that Romney’s doing pretty well while Obama fumbles his way through another Wreckovery Summer.

Update: Thanks to Zybalto in the comments, I have the Reuters sample data — and it’s pretty intriguing.  The D/R/I in this poll before assigning leaners is 31/22/47; after leaners, 47/38/15.  Both of these are absurd models in any election year.  The 2008 model was 39/32/29, and 2010′s 35/35/30.  Assigning a D+9 in 2012 is laughable, and it does indeed indicate to me that Romney may already have a small lead in a properly-modeled electorate.


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Maybe we should get a new President.

MTF on June 13, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Again I can only reference my own personal observations, but department stores I frequent(Worst Buy, Fry’s, Kohl’s) have been dead for several months now. The only places that are still packed are restaurants and movie theaters, and a big reason for that is all the kids out of school.

Doughboy on June 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Quityerbitchin Morrissey, I admitted “the economy is not fine.” As long as the economy doesn’t include the private sector.

-Barak Obama

Flora Duh on June 13, 2012 at 9:25 AM

I’m sure it was the snow or the heat or something.

Just a blip. Or a blop.

NoDonkey on June 13, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Quit your moanin’ Morrissey, I admitted “the economy is not fine.”

As long as that economy doesn’t include the private sector.

-Barak Obama

Flora Duh on June 13, 2012 at 9:26 AM

Obama…keep pounding away about the economy, I know you can back Mitt into a corner on that subject. I am sure you are stronger than him.

Don’t listen to Carville, keep going after Mitt, you are doing just great, I am supporting your every move, and can’t wait for the results of your brilliant strategy in November.

right2bright on June 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

And teen summer unemployment is at a low. Lots of “spending money” that those teens used to earn and then spend at retail stores isn’t going to happen.

Not to mention the probable outcome of fewer teens working … more teens with idle time to do stupid things.

ProfShadow on June 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

oops, sorry for the double post. I thought the first one went to the HA trash heap.

Flora Duh on June 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Good news. You can spend less on gasolene to drive the mall with no money to buy anything. Fuel savings on not having a job to drive to is a benefit.

seven on June 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Doughboy on June 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM

And in Sept. when it’s back to school, Obama will tout the up swing in retail sales…as if it doesn’t happen every year.

“School bell rings, and children sing, it back to Robert Hall this year…”
Who, from So. Ca. remembers that jingle?

right2bright on June 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Global warming! Nuclear proliferation!

rogerb on June 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM

And in Sept. when it’s back to school, Obama will tout the up swing in retail sales…as if it doesn’t happen every year.

“School bell rings, and children sing, it back to Robert Hall this year…”
Who, from So. Ca. remembers that jingle?

right2bright on June 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Terrific. I’m sure the economy will get a huge boost from the increase in sales of pencils and backpacks.

/

Doughboy on June 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM

I don’t think we are anywhere near the bottom. Obamacare kicks in 2014. All that cash is going to be sidelined until business knows what the new rules are.

tom daschle concerned on June 13, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Coming to theatres this summer, “The June that attacked Obama”. Also included, all the funny out-takes and gaffes, and interviews with the Supreme Court justices who declared Obamacare unconstitutional.

You don’t want to miss this gut-buster. Bring lots of popcorn.

fogw on June 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Three predictions:

- The Q2 real GDP growth will start with a “0″.
- At least one of the 2 revisions to the Q3 real GDP growth will start with a “-”.
- The National Bureau of Economic Research wil peg the start of the “next” recession as either January or February 2013 to absolve Obama and the Democrats of the blame, even if Q3 and Q4 GDP growth comes in negative.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM

the previously-announced 0.1% gain in April got revised downward to a 0.2% drop in that month

Unexpected!

Look, Romney’s dog is on top of his car!

BacaDog on June 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM

How many Dems are waking up this morning thinking “Damn, we should have primaried this flop”?

hillsoftx on June 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM

You don’t want to miss this gut-buster. Bring lots of popcorn.

fogw on June 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

But only a 12 oz soda!

BacaDog on June 13, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Wait a minute! Aren’t retail sales part of the private sector? I have it on good authority that the private sector was doing fine. These numbers must be racist or something.

Happy Nomad on June 13, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Coming to theatres this summer, “The June that attacked Obama”.
fogw on June 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

If you think June was bad for Obama, just wait for July . . . and August . . . and September. And then there is October, which often brings some nasty surprises in the stock market . . . .

AZCoyote on June 13, 2012 at 9:40 AM

And teen summer unemployment is at a low. Lots of “spending money” that those teens used to earn and then spend at retail stores isn’t going to happen.

ProfShadow on June 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Clearly, we need to hire more firefighters and teachers. :0

Happy Nomad on June 13, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Remember those days when no one cared about these reports?
Mostly because everyone was working and America was doin’ fine.

No Obama!

Electrongod on June 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM

I don’t know what you people are so concerned about.

Charlie Rangel defends the boy king’s economic policies and says we have the best economy in the world

What? You don’t believe him?

Flora Duh on June 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM

We just took 10 cows to the sale barn.
Most of the $$ will go to pay our property taxes so we can keep our ranch.
Those property taxes will go toward the bloated North Dakota govt to waste on social programs & bureaucrats.
Meanwhile, the farm to market roads & bridges etc continue to deteriorate.
What could I have done with that $$ if the govt would have let me keep it?
Gee, IDK, buy things I needed, improve our ranch, basically boost the economy.

All of these taxes & looting & thieving by all govts is what’s wrong.
And all the American lemmings that vote to keep these thieves in office.

Badger40 on June 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Coming to theatres this summer, “The June that attacked Obama”.

fogw on June 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

And the sequel “November To Dismember”, coming soon to a polling place near you.

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

And teen summer unemployment is at a low. Lots of “spending money” that those teens used to earn and then spend at retail stores isn’t going to happen.

ProfShadow on June 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

Clearly, we need to hire more firefighters and teachers. :0

Happy Nomad on June 13, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Well we can;t have teenagers out there unsupervised during the summer.
They clearly need to be in school all year long.
Free Government Babysitting!

Badger40 on June 13, 2012 at 9:45 AM

#DoingJustFine

Good Lt on June 13, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Drop in retail sales was mainly due to declining gas prices; take that out and sales were basically flat. Gas prices have declined sharply since earlier in the Spring, and this was partly reflected in a sharp 1% drop in the producer price index. Sluggish growth continues. All eyes on Greece this weekend …

TouchdownBuddha on June 13, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Those property taxes will go toward the bloated North Dakota govt to waste on social programs & bureaucrats.

Badger40 on June 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

You live in North Dakota, the state with the lowest regulatory burden that serious contemplates getting rid of property tax, and you complain about big government?! Oh man, you gotta live in New Jersey for a while…

Archivarix on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

In the latest sign that we’re heading into a third straight Wreckovery Summer, retail sales fell in May by 0.2%

Adding more injury to insult. Just ONCE I’d love to see the economy defy our Marxist dictator and grow despite his foolish antics, but that would cause a fair number of dummies to vote him back in.

That just proves one just can’t have his cake and eat it, too.

Turtle317 on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Oil prices have been falling over the last few weeks because of declining demand. That’s not a good sign; it’s an indicator that we may be heading toward another recession.

Fuel prices are still way to damn high, despite the recent drop. No one has any disposable income due to the price and the cost of goods, (still high food prices), causing the average American to barely get thru the month without a negative balance. Obama’s regulatory policies and the unstable world economic picture will continue until he’s replaced.

Watch Obama try to slip in some kind of rebate/stimulus this summer, (at the taxpayer’s cost), AGAIN, ignoring the national debt, and the paltry low bond rates—that are not an investment. He could also push for a QE3 since Congress has no control over the Fed’s spending/printing habits.

Rovin on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

I love it when Ed says things like “Properly Modeled Electorate”.

Sends a tingle up my leg.

Gerry-Mittbot-wants Ed to be Mitt’s pollster

gerrym51 on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Well, this is the unavoidable result of borrowing like maniacs and then running those printing presses at Treasury to “cover” the debt. See, the idea is they can keep borrowing and then pay back our creditors with increasingly “cheaper” (i.e. worthless) money. Will somebody tell Geithner, Obama et al. that this is the same thing Jefferson Davis did for the Confederacy, and we all know that worked out. Some loyal Southerners were papering the walls of their attics with Confederate dollars — even before Appomattox.

Scriptor on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

No president and/or party has ever won reelection with consumer confidence below the 100 index. It has been hovering in the 50-60 range for the past two years and shows no signs of moving upwards.

In other words, barring the unforeseeable, goodbye SCOAMF as Mitt wins with a 6-7% margin.

Rixon on June 13, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Oh man, you gotta live in New Jersey for a while…

Archivarix on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

What? There’s ranches in NJ??

Turtle317 on June 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

The D/R/I in this poll before assigning leaners is 31/22/47; after leaners, 47/38/15. Both of these are absurd models in any election year.

Wow. So Romney is ahead by seven or eight and pulling ahead.

dogsoldier on June 13, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Blames Bush in 5… 4… 3…

The Rogue Tomato on June 13, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Just ONCE I’d love to see the economy defy our Marxist dictator and grow despite his foolish antics,

Turtle317 on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Yeah, Obama would like that too.

Happy Nomad on June 13, 2012 at 9:57 AM

U.S. producer prices fell sharply in May and retail sales posted their biggest decline in two years amid falling energy prices, a sign of easing inflation pressures that could give the Federal Reserve more room to help the economy should growth weaken.

Easing inflation pressures, or the beginnings of deflation?

I know which way I’ll bet, which is purely self-interest. I’m waiting for prices to come down more before I spend any of the money I have left since SCOAMF ran my finances into the ground.

Dusty on June 13, 2012 at 9:59 AM

November will be a REALLY bad month for Obama, hopefully.

Whereas December, he’ll have all the time he needs for golf at 10 star European resorts.

Of course, by then he’ll have to pay for the resorts himself.

You can play golf in Chicago in December if you wear mittens.

NoDonkey on June 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

The D/R/I in this poll before assigning leaners is 31/22/47; after leaners, 47/38/15.

Can anyone say “fraud”?

Dusty on June 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Of course, by then he’ll have to pay for the resorts himself.

[NoDonkey on June 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM]

I wish. He’ll be racking up personal expenses on the public dime until January 20th.

Dusty on June 13, 2012 at 10:04 AM

I don’t know what you people are so concerned about.

Charlie Rangel defends the boy king’s economic policies and says we have the best economy in the world

What? You don’t believe him?

Flora Duh on June 13, 2012 at 9:43 AM

The term ‘congenital liar’ comes to mind…

trigon on June 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

I hate feeling this optimistic this early in the campaign

I just know the lsm/drms are going to pull something in Oct

cmsinaz on June 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Ed,

Thank you for routinely giving a poll’s sample data. That makes the results intelligible — and HA very worthwhile as an information source.

65droptop on June 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM

You live in North Dakota, the state with the lowest regulatory burden that serious contemplates getting rid of property tax, and you complain about big government?! Oh man, you gotta live in New Jersey for a while…

Archivarix on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

I know what you’re saying.
But if ND govt continues to grow like it has, it could become New Jersey.
These people are drunk on the gas & oil cash.
I know you;re joking with me, but I am seriously not going to sit by & watch this happen & do nothing.
These people are like a soon-to-be ex-wife who still has her husband’s no limit credit card.

Badger40 on June 13, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Archivarix on June 13, 2012 at 9:48 AM

And property taxes should be a national issue, anyway.
We are not free when our property can be confiscated from a govt when we don’t pony up the $$ they claim we owe them.

Badger40 on June 13, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Another day, another poll rigged to try to manipulate people into thinking the Democrat is ahead. Yawn.

eyedoc on June 13, 2012 at 10:12 AM

“School bell rings, and children sing, it back to Robert Hall this year…”
Who, from So. Ca. remembers that jingle?

right2bright on June 13, 2012 at 9:29 AM

I’m in NE Ohio and I remember it,along with “We’re doing our Christmas shopping..at Robert Hall this year…”

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on June 13, 2012 at 10:16 AM

One of the interesting things about the Reuters poll is that support for Democrats in Congress (ie, who would get your vote for Congressman, the Dem or the Rep?) has actually gone up a point:

6/7-11/12 Dem 47 Rep 44
5/3-7/12 Dem 46 Rep 44

So the decline in Obama’s support is peculiar to him.

bobs1196 on June 13, 2012 at 10:21 AM

…tweet…!!!

KOOLAID2 on June 13, 2012 at 10:22 AM

Badger40 on June 13, 2012 at 9:44 AM

My heart goes out to you and your family. Many in my extended family are farmers/ranchers, and they’re hurting too. When Grandma dies – which won’t be long from now – the question of what to do with her land/property will be a hard one. So very, very many wonderful memories at that place.

MelonCollie on June 13, 2012 at 10:22 AM

You can play golf in Chicago in December if you wear mittens.
NoDonkey on June 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

There now seems to be some gathering evidence and sense that he’s not really “playing golf” during all of these trips to the golf course-that it’s a cover story for “other activities”, if you know what I mean.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on June 13, 2012 at 10:24 AM

The only places that are still packed are restaurants and movie theaters, and a big reason for that is all the kids out of school.

Doughboy on June 13, 2012 at 9:24 AM

I asked Michelle Obama about that, and she claimed it was because we’re all a bunch of fat pigs that need to be redirected to spending our money how she see’s fit.

BettyRuth on June 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM

What? There’s ranches in NJ??

Turtle317 on June 13, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Where do you think they get Jersey Cows? D’uh.

BTW, ND is trying to eliminate property taxes, hoping the gap will be filled by the increased tax revenue from all the fracking going on.

LoganSix on June 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM

damn the tsunami and those ATM machines…..

t8stlikchkn on June 13, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Maybe we should get a new President.

MTF on June 13, 2012 at 9:22 AM

But this one is so bright and shiny!

And cool!

And barely used.

ButterflyDragon on June 13, 2012 at 10:32 AM

I have a solution! FIRE EVERYONE IN THE CENSUS BUREAU! That way Barry can publish any numbers he wants. That will turn the economy around.

It’s obvious the press has failed to talk UP the economy (just as they failed to talk DOWN the Bush economy prior to the recession).

GarandFan on June 13, 2012 at 10:35 AM

I asked Michelle Obama about that, and she claimed it was because we’re all a bunch of fat pigs that need to be redirected to spending our money how she see’s fit.

BettyRuth on June 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Drudge has the story about the NYC board who not only supports Bloomberg’s war on soda but is now out over milk drinks and movie theater popcorn.

Happy Nomad on June 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM

But this one is so bright and shiny!

And cool!

And barely used.

ButterflyDragon on June 13, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Because he’s a lemon!

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM

CNBC home page uses the name SPRING SWOON for todays data.

burt on June 13, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Ah, but you see, “it could have been so much worse”. A little crystal ball action from the left, poor buggers don’t have much left except defensive fantasies.

arand on June 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Suppose the Supremes throw Obamacare over the side and relieved small business owners start to expand and hire. Will Obama claim credit for that, even though it was created by cancelling his signature legislation?

a capella on June 13, 2012 at 11:02 AM

But, when you add back sales from Solyndra retail sales were up 1.5%.

What?? Oh, never mind.

sdbatboy on June 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM