Chain Stores Sales
Monthly sales volumes from department, chain, discount, and apparel stores. Sales are reported by the individual retailers. Chain store sales are an indicator of retail sales and consumer spending trends.
Why do Investors Care?
The pattern of consumption spending is one of the foremost influences on stock and bond markets. Strong economic growth translates into healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. The focus in the bond market is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth which is what happened through much of the nineties. As a result, investors in the stock and bond markets have enjoyed huge gains. If and when the party comes to an end, more than likely a change in the economic trend will tip us off.
Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy, so if you know what consumers are up to, you’ll have a pretty good handle on where the economy is headed. Needless to say, that’s a big advantage for investors.
Chain store sales not only give you a sense of the big picture, but also the trends among individual retailers and different store categories. Perhaps the discount chains such as Target and K-mart are doing well, but the high-end department stores are lagging. Maybe apparel specialty retailers are showing exceptional growth. These trends from the monthly chain store data can help you spot specific investment opportunities, without having to wait for the quarterly or annual reports.
Just a few words of caution. Sales are reported as a change from the same month, a year ago. It is important to know how strong sales actually were a year ago to make sense of this year’s sales. In addition, sales are usually reported for “comparable stores” in case of company mergers.