Retail Sales

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Retail Sales'

An aggregated measure of the sales of retail goods over a stated time period, typically based on a data sampling that is extrapolated to model an entire country. In the U.S., the retail sales report is a monthly economic indicator compiled and released by the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce. The report covers the previous month, and is released about two weeks after the month-end. Comparisons are made against historical data; year-over-year comparisons are the most-reported metric because they account for the seasonality of consumer-based retail.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Retail Sales'

The retail sales report captures in-store sales as well as catalog and other out-of-store sales. The report also breaks down sales figures into groups such as food and beverages, clothing, and autos. The results are often presented two ways: with and without auto sales being counted, because their high sticker price can add extra volatility to the data.

Retail sales figures are vital to stock investors as a whole, and especially to those who invest in retail companies directly. They are also are a big component of total gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States, so any extended drop-offs in retail spending can trigger a recession by lowering tax receipts and forcing companies to reduce head counts.

As far as broad economic indicators go, the retail sales report is one of the most timely, providing data that is only a few weeks old. Individual retail companies often give their own sales figures around the same time per month, and their stocks can be very volatile around this time as investors process the data.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Doorbuster

    A marketing and sales strategy retailers use to get a high volume ...
  2. Repeat Sales

    A purchase made by a consumer that replaces a previous purchase ...
  3. Retail Inventory Method

    An accounting procedure for estimating the value of a store's ...
  4. CBI Realized Sales

    An accurate early indicator of monthly retail sales in the U.K. ...
  5. Retail Investor

    Individual investors who buy and sell securities for their personal ...
  6. Gross Domestic Product - GDP

    The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How accurate is the forward rate in predicting interest rates?

    Forward rates are extremely limited predictors of actual interest rates. This isn't particularly surprising, given the multitude ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What institutions employ the human development index (HDI)?

    Some institutions that employ the human development index (HDI) include the United Nations and the World Health Organization. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is a geometric mean in statistics?

    In statistics there exists a wide variety of metrics such as median, standard deviation, arithmetic mean, power mean, geometric ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Which economic factors most affect the demand for consumer goods?

    The consumer goods sector includes a wide range of retail products purchased by consumers, from staples such as food and ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What economic indicators are important to monitor when investing in the electronics ...

    The most important economic indicators to monitor when investing in the electronics sector are global gross domestic product ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some of the risks of holding liquid assets?

    Liquid assets, such as cash or highly marketable securities, tend to offer lower returns than illiquid assets. This leaves ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Understanding The Consumer Confidence Index

    We look at this closely watched economic indicator to see what it means and how it's calculated.
  2. Investing Basics

    Economic Indicators That Do-It-Yourself Investors Should Know

    Understanding these investing tools will put the market in your hands.
  3. Fundamental Analysis

    Analyzing Retail Stocks

    To analyze retail stocks, investors need to be aware of the most common metrics used. Find out what they are.
  4. Options & Futures

    Are Derivatives Safe For Retail Investors?

    These vehicles have gotten a bad rap in the press. Find out whether they deserve it.
  5. Professionals

    Do You Belong In Retail?

    Making a career in retail is one of the most challenging tasks in the investment industry. Find out if it's for you.
  6. Budgeting

    Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings

    Use coupons strategically to score big savings on everyday purchases.
  7. Economics

    Understanding Product Lines

    A product line is a group of related products manufactured by the same company.
  8. Investing

    How India Makes Money

    India currently has the ninth largest nominal GDP (and third largest in PPP) in the world.
  9. Economics

    How China Makes Money

    China has the first or second largest GDP in the world but is not nearly as developed as others in the top 10.
  10. Economics

    Will The US Economy Rebound In The 2nd Quarter?

    Most investors know that U.S. 1st quarter growth numbers aren’t pretty. Economic statistics have been missing expectations by the largest margin since 2009

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Capital Stock

    The common and preferred stock a company is authorized to issue, according to their corporate charter. Capital stock represents ...
  2. Unearned Revenue

    When an individual or company receives money for a service or product that has yet to be fulfilled. Unearned revenue can ...
  3. Trailing Twelve Months - TTM

    The timeframe of the past 12 months used for reporting financial figures. A company's trailing 12 months is a representation ...
  4. Subordinated Debt

    A loan (or security) that ranks below other loans (or securities) with regard to claims on assets or earnings. Also known ...
  5. International Financial Reporting Standards - IFRS

    A set of international accounting standards stating how particular types of transactions and other events should be reported ...
  6. Geometric Mean

    The average of a set of products, the calculation of which is commonly used to determine the performance results of an investment ...
Trading Center