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What Is It and Should I Care?


In this series, the 'Ville tackles a weighty, scary-sounding economic data release, bottom-lining the facts and explaining the significance. This first installment: Advanced Monthly Retails Sales. Fun times.

Advance Monthly Retail Sales
This morning the Commerce Department reported Retail Sales rose 0.3%, far higher than the projected decline of 0.3%. What does this really mean? And should you care? Below, Minyanville takes a look:

What is it? The Advance Monthy Retail Sales Report (hint: most media outlets chop off the "Advance Monthly" part so that it's easier to pretend these numbers are meaningful) attempts to measure sales at retail and food service companies.

Who reports it? The Department of Commerce, Census Bureau. Check out the actual report.

When is the report released? Nine working days after the close of the survey month, at 8:30 a.m. EST.

How does it work? Simple, the Census Bureau sends out a survey to about 5,000 retail and food service companies asking them to provide data on the dollar value of sales over a specific calendar month, four-week or five-week period. Not quite sure what your sales were over the last month? No worries, estimates are fine, seriously. See a sample form for yourself.

Who uses it? Well, believe it or not there are two organizations that actually use this data to help prepare other reports. The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses the data for their Gross Domestic Product (GD) estimates. The Burerau of Labor Statistics uses the data as an input into Producer Price Indices and in their productivity measurements.
Otherwise, use of the data is limited to economists, financial reporters, retail industry employees and pretty much no one else... Particularly no one else who is involved in actively managing money and trading financial markets.

Should I care?
Value to economists and academics: two Pocket Protectors (out of possible five).

Value to professional market participants: half Coin (out of possible five).

Impact on your 401(k): zero South Florida Villas (out of possible five).
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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