The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for May was released this morning. Headline sales came in at 17.7% month-over-month to one decimal and was well above the forecast of 8.0%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 12.4% MoM (to two decimals).

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Statement Regarding COVID-19 Impact: Due to recent events surrounding COVID-19, many businesses are operating on a limited capacity or have ceased operations completely. The Census Bureau has monitored response and data quality and determined estimates in this release meet publication standards. For more information on the compilation of this month's report, see <COVID-19 FAQs>.

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for May 2020, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $485.5 billion, an increase of 17.7 percent (± 0.5 percent) from the previous month, but 6.1 percent (± 0.7 percent) below May 2019. Total sales for the March 2020 through May 2020 period were down 10.5 percent (± 0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The March 2020 to April 2020 percent change was revised from down 16.4 percent (± 0.5 percent) to down 14.7 percent (± 0.2 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 16.8 percent (± 0.5 percent) from April 2020, but 1.4 percent (± 0.7 percent) below last year. Nonstore retailers were up 30.8 percent (± 1.4 percent) from May 2019, while building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 16.4 percent (± 1.9 percent) from last year. [view full report]

The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.

Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

Core Retail Sales YoY