Thursday, August 29, 2013

Retail sales heat up

Among several data releases from the CSO today is the July Retail Sales Index.  The overall index is heavily distorted by the motor trades with a weight of 21.6% in the index for July.  As a result of the introduction of the ‘132’ number plate Motor Trades in the index show a 25% annual increase over July 2012.

As per usual the focus here is on the RSI excluding the motor trades.  This shows a much smaller increase than the overall index but is not subject to the artificial boost brought about by the push of some new car sales into July (rather than an increase in new car sales).

Here is the index excluding motor trades since the start of 2010.

Ex Motor Trades Index to July 2013

As can be seen the performance after the local maximum in October 2012 was weak.  The downtrend ended in April of this year and July provided a jump back close to those levels seen in October last year (which were in part helped by the digital switchover).  One explanation for the July increase is potentially the spell of exceptionally good weather at the time.

The largest monthly increases in volume were seen in:

  • Bars +2.6%
  • Non-Specialised Stores +3.3%
  • Food, Beverages & Tobacco +4.2%
  • Clothing, Footwear & Textiles +5.3%
  • Hardware, Paints & Glass +5.1%
  • Books, Newspapers & Stationery +16.2%

some of which could be influenced by the weather.  The largest monthly decreases in volume were seen in Electrical Goods (-4.9%) and Fuel (-4.2%).

The annual changes show that the July increase resulted in a modest annual increase.

Ex Motor Trades Annual Changes to July 2013

While the monthly changes highlight the inherent volatility in the series, and with less exceptional weather since, it is possible that subsequent releases will see a return to the sequence of monthly decreases seen around the start of the year.

Ex Motor Trades Monthly Changes to July 2013