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US: Expenditure distribution in retail sales, price-inflation details

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The data announced today should be interpreted on a different level, because retail sales, which increased by only 0.3% in November, are not related to the weakening of the economy, but to the effects of inflation on the distribution of expenditures. For this reason, the Fed does not lag behind the tapering phenomenon by simply looking at these data. Cash from incentives and wage hikes has increased consumers’ ability to spend, but more resources are going into the distribution of consumption due to rising prices for gas and food. This limits the distribution to other consumption items and causes less spending.

 

If we look at the sub-items; In the headline, we see a 0.3% monthly increase, in core retail sales, which excludes fuel and automobiles, with limited increases of 0.2%. There is a 0.1% contraction in the narrowest control group that affects growth. In expenditure items; We observe a contraction of 5.4% in large stores, 4.6% in electronics and white goods stores, 1.2% in general retailing, 0.6% in health and personal care, and 0.1% in motor vehicle and parts dealers. There is no change in furniture and online shopping. Ascending items give us the details of inflation and spending change, as food and beverage increased 1% (food inflation), catering services, restaurants increased 1.3% (services inflation) and gas stations increased 1.7% (energy prices).

 

We can think that the normalization of the effect caused by commodity prices will be due to the improvement of supply chains. There is no clear situation in terms of time and amount. Regarding the reflection of Omicron’s effects on spending, it is necessary to see a volumetric decrease, but it is necessary to see this. Omicron or inflation will weight non-discretionary spending, whichever it is. This is not a desired phenomenon. It should also be considered that inflation expectations caused many spending to be made early, including holiday/gift shopping. At the point of entering into the calculation, especially the invoice for January should be monitored on the basis of the volumetric sales scale. Currently available; both goods and services inflation is solid. Therefore, the Fed is not in a position to hold back from tapering, but is even at a point to taper more aggressively due to inflation concerns.

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