Saturday, July 30, 2011

Real retail sales in Europe: will German consumers save the day? Maybe, perhaps

Retail sales in Germany and Spain were reported last week for the month of June. On a working-day and not-seasonally adjusted basis, real retail sales fell 7.0% on the year in Spain. In contrast, working-day and seasonally adjusted real retail sales surged over the month in Germany, 6.3%, and posted a 2.6% annual gain.

But the Spanish data is better than the non-seasonal numbers would suggest. In fact, accounting for seasonal factors as in the manner done by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, Spanish real retail sales posted a monthly gain, 1.2% in June. Don't get too giddy on me - the Spanish data looks awful in a small panel (time series and cross section).

(click to enlarge)

The chart above illustrates the seasonally adjusted level of real retail sales for Germany, Spain, Italy, and the US. Since last year, Spain and Italy have seen a precipitous decline in real retail sales. This decline is especially coincident with the outset of fiscal austerity, as I highlighted in a post last month.

The only positive on this chart - US real retail sales have stalled and that in Italy and Spain are on a relentless trend of contraction - is Germany. Although there was a outstized gain in June, the 3-month/3-month annualized pace of growth is still negative, -1.5%. However, since auto sales are not included in this measure of retail sales, the surge is not just a Japan story. The point is, that it's possible there's consumer spending anew. If German consumers can push on their domestic economy and eventually seeping out to the Periphery via increased import demand, then there's hope for Europe after all. However, it's still way to early to tell if June will form a trend.

I have my doubts, though, as I'll highlight in a sequential post.

Rebecca Wilder

3 comments:

  1. as long as the exports to (mostly) asia remain strong there is a good possibility for a real wage rise across the board in 2012.  If even growth in asia remains at the current levels, i'd say the probability is at least 80%.
    But if there is a chinese slump or asian recession coming end of 2011 the probability is 0%.
    Currently it looks somehow in between at least signalling weaker growth there.
    So i assume it depends less on European policy and not at all on the "Euro crisis".

    ReplyDelete
  2. as long as the exports to (mostly) asia remain strong there is a good possibility for a real wage rise across the board in 2012.  If even growth in asia remains at the current levels, i'd say the probability is at least 80%.
    But if there is a chinese slump or asian recession coming end of 2011 the probability is 0%.
    Currently it looks somehow in between at least signalling weaker growth there.
    So i assume it depends less on European policy and not at all on the "Euro crisis".

    ReplyDelete
  3. as long as the exports to (mostly) asia remain strong there is a good possibility for a real wage rise across the board in 2012.  If even growth in asia remains at the current levels, i'd say the probability is at least 80%.
    But if there is a chinese slump or asian recession coming end of 2011 the probability is 0%.
    Currently it looks somehow in between at least signalling weaker growth there.
    So i assume it depends less on European policy and not at all on the "Euro crisis".

    ReplyDelete