The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for April was released this morning. Headline sales came in at 0.02% month-over-month to two decimals and below the forecast of 1.0%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at -0.79% MoM.

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for April 2021, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $619.9 billion, virtually unchanged (± 0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 51.2 percent (± 0.7 percent) above April 2020. Total sales for the February 2021 through April 2021 period were up 27.1 percent (± 0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The February 2021 to March 2021 percent change was revised from up 9.7 percent (± 0.5 percent) to up 10.7 percent (± 0.3 percent).

Retail trade sales were down 0.3 percent (± 0.5 percent)* from March 2021, but up 46.1 percent (± 0.7 percent) above last year. Clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 726.8 percent (± 2.8 percent) from April 2020, while food services and drinking places were up 116.8 percent (± 3.0 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