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Thursday, March 12, 2015 1:51 PM

Weather Unexpectedly Much Worse Than Economists Previously Thought

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Weather Surprisingly Worse

Retail sales were down for the third month today. The Economists Blame Cold Weather.

U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fell for a third straight month in February as harsh weather kept consumers from auto showrooms and shopping malls, tempering the outlook for first-quarter growth and a June interest rate increase. "This report points to a surprisingly bigger weather impact on spending activity than previously thought," said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in the New York.

Bloomberg Consensus

The Bloomberg Econoday Consensus Is amusing as well.

ComponentPriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Retail Sales - M/M change-0.8 %-0.8 %0.3 %-0.1 % to 0.5 %-0.6 %
Retail Sales less autos - M/M change-0.9 %-1.1 %0.5 %0.0 % to 0.9 %-0.1 %
Less Autos & Gas - M/M Change0.2 %-0.1 %0.5 %0.0 % to 0.7 %-0.2 %

Retail Sales From Previous Month

Retail Sales From Previous Year

Charts from Commerce Department Advance Monthly Sales for February 2015.

Retail Sales Excluding Motor Vehicles and Parts

Retail Sales Excluding Food Services

Quite the "Weather" Impact

Factory Orders Blame Game

In regards to factory orders I noted that some blame the rising dollar, some blame weakness in foreign demand, some blame the port strike, and some blame lower oil prices, and some blame cutbacks in the energy sector. No one cited the "slowing global economy".

Curiously, no one blamed the weather for the decline in factory orders. Then again, This [retail sales] report points to a surprisingly bigger weather impact on spending activity than previously thought.

The retail sales consensus was +0.3%. Actual sales were -0.6%. That was a half percentage point lower than any economist's prediction.

Damn that bad weather! When does it end?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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