November Retail Sales Were Very Strong

The Census Bureau announced this morning that retail sales were up strongly in November. However, their numbers don’t account for inflation and don’t provide any context for previous years. So how did we really do?

Answer: pretty good. Accounting for inflation, November sales were up 4.1 percent over last year. That’s the best showing this century with the exception of 2010, the first expansion year after the Great Recession. And it’s considerably better than the past two years.

If this is being done out of current income, rather than running up the credit cards, it suggests that the economy is heating up. Considering my fear of a recession in the next year or so, I don’t consider this unalloyed good news, but for everyone else it is.