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. Cyclical Stock

    An equity security whose price is affected by ups and downs in ...
  6. Gross Domestic Product - GDP

    The monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Who are Nordstrom's (JWN) main competitors?

    Nordstrom (JWN) is a high-end retail sales department store offering fashion, shoes and accessories for men, women and children. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Who are Target's (TGT) main competitors?

    Target (TGT) is a discount retailer, which means that it generates revenue by offering competitively priced consumer goods. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the average debt/equity ratio of companies in the electronics sector?

    Companies benefit from price discrimination because they can capture 100% of the available consumer surplus, entice consumers ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How is investing in a corporate bond different from buying shares of the company's ...

    Examples of just in time, or JIT, inventory processes are found in automobile manufacturing, drop shipping retailers, fast ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What's the most accurate way to find out a nation's nominal GDP?

    The data for gross domestic product, or GDP, is compiled by statistical governmental agencies in each country and is aggregated ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are some examples of ways that sensitivity analysis can be used?

    Sensitivity analysis is an analysis method that is used to identify how much variations in the input values for a given variable ... 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. Investing

    The Case For Stocks Today

    Last week, U.S. equities advanced with the S&P 500 Index notching new records. Investors are now getting nervous with rate and currency volatility spiking.
  8. Personal Finance

    How Amazon Fresh Works

    Amazon Fresh, a grocery delivery company that operates in parts of Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and New Jersey, is a new service from Amazon.
  9. Investing

    Which Dow Jones Stocks are Safe? Which are Risky?

    In a situation where our sustained bull run could turn into a sell-off rather quickly, here are four somewhat safe Dow stocks and four to be wary of.
  10. Savings

    20 Ways To Pay Less At Costco

    There are plenty of little-known Costco shopping hacks that can save you big bucks at the register, and help you avoid the notorious spending hangover.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Unlevered Beta

    A type of metric that compares the risk of an unlevered company to the risk of the market. The unlevered beta is the beta ...
  2. Moving Average - MA

    A widely used indicator in technical analysis that helps smooth out price action by filtering out the “noise” from random ...
  3. Yield Curve

    A line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality, but differing maturity ...
  4. Productivity

    An economic measure of output per unit of input. Inputs include labor and capital, while output is typically measured in ...
  5. Variance

    The spread between numbers in a data set, measuring Variance is calculated by taking the differences between each number ...
  6. Terminal Value - TV

    The value of a bond at maturity, or of an asset at a specified, future valuation date, taking into account factors such as ...
Trading Center