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Finance Dictionary and Glossary of Investment Terms
retail sales index
A monthly measurement of all goods sold by retailers based on a sampling of retail stores of different types and sizes. The retail sales index is often taken as an indicator of consumer confidence. Released at 8:30 am EST around the 12th of each month, the report reflects data from the previous month. This report is the "advance" report, which can be revised fairly significantly after the final numbers are calculated. Many analysts choose to look at the figures "ex-auto", which means excluding the volatile car sales figure. It is thought that this number is a better measure of across-the-board purchasing trends. The report does not include money spent on services, so it represents less than half of total consumption during the month. However, even with these limitations, the figures are closely watched as an indicator of the health of the economy.
A government index that measures the total receipts of retail stores. The changes in retail sales are widely followed as the most timely indicator of broad consumer spending patterns. Retail sales are often viewed ex-autos, as auto sales can move sharply from month-to-month. It is also important to keep an eye on the gas and food components, where changes in sales are often a result of price changes rather than shifting consumer demand.Retail sales can be quite volatile and the advance reports are subject to rather large revisions. Retail sales do not include spending on services, which makes up over half of total consumption. Total personal consumption is not available until the personal income and consumption reports are released, typically two weeks after retail sales.Importance (A-F): This release merits an A-. Source: The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce. Release Time: 8:30 ET around the 13th of the month (data for one month prior). Raw Data Available At: http://www.census.gov/svsc/www/advtable.html.