IT: Retail Sales

Tue Jun 23 04:00:00 CDT 2015

Consensus Actual Previous
Month over Month 0.1% 0.7% -0.1%
Year over Year 0.0% -0.2%

Italian retailers finally enjoyed a strong month in April as sales rose a surprisingly robust 0.7 percent versus March, their steepest gain since May 2013. Promisingly, volume sales were also 0.7 percent higher. Even so, unadjusted nominal annual growth was only 0.0 percent, up just a couple of ticks from last time, and real purchases were still some 0.5 percent lower than in April 2014.

Moreover, the overall monthly increase was flattered by a 1.0 percent bounce in nominal spending on food although a 0.5 percent gain in non-food purchases was still the subsector's best performance in a couple of years.

Total cash sales in April equalled their highest level since September 2013. This will come as some relief to firms but with consumer confidence having slipped in May and buying intentions softer too, there are plenty of reasons to be cautious about the extent of the recovery at this stage. That said, today's data clearly boost the chances of a second successive quarter of positive economic growth.

Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods. The monthly change in the headline figure, which is reported in volume terms, is only disaggregated into food and non-food categories.

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.