US Retail sales: An insight into the state of the US economy

Just under three quarters of all US economic activity comes from consumer spending. US retails sales data contains evidence of around one third of that activity. So, this print can give a big hint at the overall state of the economy. However, the report does have a weakness in that it represents only spending on goods found in department stores, restaurants, and auto dealers. However, it does not tell us what is being spent on the service sector. So, things like air travel, insurance purchases, dental care etc are not revealed by the print. Nevertheless it is important and any out of consensus prints is likely to get the markets attention, so it is a focus of this week.

US Retail sales peaked in Covid

The lockdown of Covid sent US retail sales figures surging higher, but they have been steadily moving lower over the last few months. You can see the steady fall continuing over the last 12 months below:

This month’s reading is for June’s data and it is expected to fall to 1.1% y/y, but the month on month readings are expected to rise.

What to watch?

Investors will be looking for a clear move either higher or lower from the data as a collection. A sharp move lower in all the readings will likely be taken by investors to mean that the impact of the Fed’s rate hikes are starting to be felt by consumers and demand is cooling. So, gold and silver buyers will be looking for a big miss in the data as it could mean that there is less chance of two rate hikes this year from the Fed. However, a very strong print higher in all the readings could mean that demand still needs to be cooled and two more rate hikes are still needed. This would typically support the USD.