Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Falling gas prices mean falling retail sales

December 12, 2008

USACheck out the fifth straight drop in U.S. retail sales.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 1.8 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted $355.66 billion following a revised 2.9 percent plunge in October.

Excluding motor vehicles and parts, sales were down 1.6 percent in November after a revised 2.4 percent October fall.

One reason for the decline (besides the struggling consumer) – gas prices.  Gasoline sales plummeted a record 14.7 percent after falling 12.9 percent in October, the data showed. Prices at the pump have fallen significantly and that is reflected in the retail sales report, which compiles total sales by gasoline stations.

The data also showed that sales of furniture, electronics and clothing were up in November after decreasing in October.  Looks like those Black Friday deals were able to rouse skittish consumers into a spending mode.

But the question remains — how much have retailers put profits at risk to gain sales?

Also in the basket:

KB Toys files for bankruptcy

Consumer Anxiety in China Set to Jolt Economy (WWD, subscription required)

Rising Retailer Threat: Liquidations  (WSJ, subscription required)



If oil is so cheap why hasn’t the price of gas gone down as much? Remember gas was under $1.00 a gallon when oil was under $50.00 a barrel. So much for supply and demand or that a refiner going down causes an increase in the price of gas. Screwed again.

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

Nationally, gas prices have dropped 58% from their highs of July. Seems to me that is within snicker distance of the oil price drop. But what do I know? I’m just a consumer analyst.

Posted by Patty | Report as abusive

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