From The Co-Founders


Tips, Tactics & Strategic Insights and Commentary
from The ROI Co-Founders, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists LLC; Retail Turnaround Experts

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When Up Is Down (Yes, we can explain)

You've no doubt seen the headlines. "Retail sales slumped in December." 

Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? Did all those foreboding warnings of supply chain issues, inventory shortages, etcetera actually come true?

  • Keep in mind that the folks trumpeting those slumping sales results are comparing each month's retail sales to the previous month. Sure enough, on that basis it is true that retail sales in December were almost 2% less than they were in November.
  • However, if you examine the same numbers the way that retailers do– that is, comparing to the same month the prior year – we see a very different story.

Take a look at the chart showing retail sales results by sector for December 2021 versus December 2020. 

Pretty interesting chart, isn't it? In fact, overall December's 2021 retail sales were 16.9% better than 2020What sales slump?! look at the Monthly Retail Sales trend charts on The ROI site. These quickly show how the trailing six month's retail sales compare to the same months the prior year.  

See? For virtually all sectors, while December 2021 sales were up smartly, November 2021 sales were up even more than December's versus 2020.Hence the headlines, "retail sales are trending down."

In other words, it is true. Sometimes up IS down.

We know that we cannot change the ways that economists and pundits talk about retail sales results. But we will keep posting these trend charts each month, so that retailers can easily compare their own stores monthly sales trends to their retail sector. 

Especially in these times, we must do all we can to keep some perspective. 

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