Sunday, November 16, 2008

 

"First" of the Day: Record decline in retail sales

The worst monthly drop on record for retail sales set off new alarm bells about the economy Friday, stepping up pressure on policy-makers to figure out how to combat what increasingly looks to be a severe recession.

A Commerce Department report showed American consumers in full flight, with retail sales falling a record 2.8 percent in October from September. Plunging auto sales led the way, but there were declines in virtually every spending category.

Newsday in "More signs of recession as retail sales fall 2.8 percent"


The Commerce Department has only been keeping records of retail sales since 1992, so there is no comparison with prior recessions. But if you take it for what it is, we actually have another "first"—

Retailers have now logged the longest string of monthly declines since the Commerce Department's comparable data series began in 1992. Excluding automobiles, purchases decreased 2.2 percent, almost twice as much as the 1.2 percent decline anticipated and also the worst performance on record.

To the "firsts" above, I would hazard that U.S. economists have generated another—the longest undeclared recession on record.

Related posts
The Depression Chronicles – 5: Consumer spending (5/13/08)
The Depression Chronicles – 6: Fall of the GDP (10/30/08)
"First" of the Day: Record budget deficit for October (11/14/08)

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