|Month over Month||-0.2%||-0.2%||-0.1%||0.0%|
|Year over Year||1.8%||2.4%||2.5%|
Household spending on manufactured goods fell 0.2 percent on the month in March after stagnating in February. What was the first fall since last September left purchases 1.8 percent higher on the year, down from a 2.5 percent annual rate in mid-quarter and a 3-month low.
Weakness last month was concentrated in textiles, which slumped 3.3 percent following a 0.2 percent decline last time, and household goods where a 0.2 percent dip wiped out the previous period's gain. Elsewhere the news was rather better and autos (1.9 percent) enjoyed a very good month and the other products category (0.1 percent) also made further ground.
Total spending on goods fared less well, falling 0.6 percent on the month to more than reverse February's 0.2 percent increase. However, earlier strength left first quarter goods consumption a very healthy 1.6 percent above its fourth quarter level and so bodes well for real GDP growth at the start of the year. Moreover, with INSEE's measure of consumer confidence reaching its highest mark since January 2010, it looks as if April spending could see a rebound.
Consumption of manufactured goods by consumers is an indicator of consumer spending for household durable goods such as autos and furniture. The data are released separately but also as part of the measure of total goods spending.
This indicator is a measure of retail sales and is unique to France. It measures consumer spending for household durable goods such as autos and furniture. The data are seasonally and workday adjusted. These adjustments eliminate the fluctuations that are solely due to changes in the number of working days. The data appear to be particularly sensitive to the number of worked Saturdays. With consumer spending a large part of the economy, market players continually monitor spending patterns. Retail sales are a measure of consumer well-being.
The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets. For stocks, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. For bonds, the focus is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth.
Retail sales not only give you a sense of the big picture, but also the trends among different types of retailers. Perhaps auto sales are especially strong or apparel sales are showing exceptional weakness. These trends from the retail sales data can help you spot specific investment opportunities, without having to wait for a company's quarterly or annual report.