New Monthly CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor Offers In-Depth Look at Retail Sales

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and CNBC recently partnered together to launch a new monthly “CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor.” Powered by Affinity Solutions, this retail monitor uses real-time debit and credit card purchase data to provide more accurate and timely insights into retail sales activity across all U.S. sectors, categories, and markets.

The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor leverages Affinity Solutions’ data from more than 140 million credit and debit cards, with nearly nine billion transactions totaling more than $500 billion in annual spending, to measure the monthly and annual change in U.S. retail sales.

A Better Understanding of U.S. Consumer Spending

“The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor will provide comprehensive, granular and timely insights that measure monthly retail sales and gauge the state of the retail industry, the consumer and the broader economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release. “The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor will modernize how retail sales are tracked and measured, and Affinity Solutions’ vast dataset of how, what and where the consumer is spending will identify how key demographics and channels are performing for the industry generally and for specific retail sectors.”

“CNBC is pleased to join with NRF and Affinity to offer this data. Our audience, investors and executives alike, will now be armed with dynamic insights that go beyond headline numbers to show emerging trends and critical detail,” CNBC Senior Vice President of Business News Dan Colarusso said in the release.

“The Retail Monitor heralds a new era of retail intelligence, where data isn’t just a resource – it’s a roadmap to understanding and engaging with the modern consumer,” Affinity Solutions CEO and founder Jonathan Silver said in the release. “Through Affinity Solutions’ work with NRF and CNBC, we’re equipping businesses with the power to anticipate and adapt to the fast-paced and iterative retail market.”

Retail Monitor Provides an In-Depth Analysis

The Retail Monitor data will be announced approximately one week prior to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Retail Sales figures. CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, will provide in-depth analysis of the monthly retail sales findings across CNBC’s multiple platforms.

The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor offers a headline monthly and annual look at retail sales performance figures for the following:

  • Total retail sales (excluding auto, gas)
  • Core retail sales (excluding auto, gas and restaurants)
  • 9 distinct retail sectors plus restaurants

The data will be shown both seasonally and not seasonally adjusted. Unlike survey-based measures, once the monthly CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor data is released, it is final and will not be revised monthly or annually. To access the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor sales data, click here.

October Retail Monitor

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales — which excludes automobile dealers, gas stations, and restaurants to focus on core retail — shows that retail sales were essentially flat, coming in marginally down .03% seasonally adjusted from September and up 2.63% year over year, unadjusted. In September, sales were up 0.09% month over month and up 4.39% year over year.

October sales were up in five out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by non-store, sporting goods/hobby/music/bookstores, and health and personal care, and up or unchanged in four out of nine categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.18% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 29.1% year over year unadjusted
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music, and bookstores were up 1.45% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 8.88% year over year unadjusted
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.77% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 5.98% year over year unadjusted
  • Food and beverage stores were up 0.23% month over month and up 2.59% year over year unadjusted
  • General merchandise stores were down 0.57% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 1.57% year over year unadjusted
  • Clothing and accessories stores were down 0.78% month over month and up 2.72% year over year unadjusted
  • Building and garden supply stores were down 0.5% month over month and up 0.89% year over year unadjusted
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1.29% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 5.24% year over year unadjusted
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 1.38% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 4.66% year over year unadjusted