Retail Sales Dip a Tad in Feb after Huge Spike in Jan. Year-over-Year: +5.4% Despite Price Drops in Durable Goods & Gasoline

Consumers are still spending like drunken sailors, especially online, now that they don’t have to blow so much on gasoline anymore.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Retail sales in February dipped 0.4% from the huge spike in January, to $698 billion, seasonally adjusted, the second highest ever, just a hair below January, when sales had spiked by 3.2%, preceded by declines in December and November, and by a jump in October. You see, this data is volatile.

So is this tiny dip in February off the huge spike in January a sign that consumers are tapped out? Nah, goods inflation has subsided, gasoline got cheaper than it was a year ago, and a whole lot cheaper than it was in June, durable goods prices have dropped, as inflation has shifted into services, and consumers are still spending like drunken sailors, now that they don’t have to blow so much of their money on gasoline anymore:

Year-over-year, retail sales rose 5.6%, not seasonally adjusted, even as inflation in many goods that retailers sell was negative, such as for many durable goods and gasoline (my detailed discussion about inflation now blowing out in services).

Retail sales by category, seasonally adjusted.

New and Used Vehicle and Parts Dealers (19% of total retail):

  • Sales: $131 billion
  • Month over month: -1.8%
  • Year-over-year: -0.2%
  • CPI used vehicles: -2.8% for the month, -13.6% year-over-year
  • CPI new vehicles: +0.2% for the month, +5.8% year-over-year.

Ecommerce and other “nonstore retailers” (16% of total retail sales), ecommerce retailers, ecommerce operations of brick-and-mortar retailers, and stalls and markets:

  • Sales: $113 billion
  • Month over month: +1.6%
  • Year-over-year: +8.5%

Food services and drinking places (13% of total retail), includes restaurants, cafeterias, bars, etc.

  • Sales: $93 billion
  • Month over month: -2.2% after the huge +7.2% spike in January.
  • Year-over-year: +15.3%
  • CPI for “food away from home”: +8.4% year over year:

Food and Beverage Stores (11.6% of total retail):

  • Sales: $81 billion
  • Month over month: +0.5%
  • Year-over-year: +5.5%
  • CPI for “food at home”: +0.3% month-to-month, +10.2% year over year:

General merchandise stores, without department stores (8.9% of total retail):

  • Sales: $62 billion
  • Month over month: +1.4%
  • Year-over-year: +12.1%

Gas stations (8.4% of total retail):

  • Sales: $58 billion
  • Month over month: -0.6%
  • Year-over-year: -1.9%
  • CPI for gasoline: -2.0% year over year:

This chart shows the relationship between the CPI for gasoline as index value representing price levels not percentage changes (green) and sales in billions of dollars at gas stations, including all the other merchandise gas stations sell (red, left axis):

Building materials, garden supply and equipment stores (6.1% of total retail):

  • Sales: $43 billion
  • Month over month: -0.1%
  • Year-over-year: +0.6%

Clothing and accessory stores (3.8% of total retail):

  • Sales: $27 billion
  • Month over month: -0.8%
  • Year-over-year: +4.3%
  • CPI apparel: 3.3% year-over-year

Miscellaneous store retailers, includes cannabis stores (2.3% of total retail): Specialty stores, from art-supply stores to wine-making supply stores. Cannabis stores are the growth driver in this category.

  • Sales: $16 billion, seasonally adjusted
  • Month over month: -1.8%.
  • Year-over-year: +4.8%
  • CPI Cannabis: nope, not yet. But per Cannabis Benchmarks U.S. Spot Index, average prices have plunged 21% year-over-year:

Furniture and home furnishing stores (1.7% of total retail):

  • Sales: $12 billion, seasonally adjusted
  • Month over month: -2.5%
  • Year-over-year: +0.1%
  • CPI Household furnishings: 6.3% year-over-year.

Department stores (now down to 1.7% of total retail, as consumers increasingly bought this stuff online, including at the ecommerce sites of the few surviving department store chains):

  • Sales: $11.6 billion
  • Month over month: -4.0%
  • Year-over-year: +2.5%
  • From February 2001: -40% despite 21 years of inflation.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (1.3% of total retail);

  • Sales: $9.4 billion
  • Month over month: -0.5%
  • Year-over-year: +3.9%

Electronics and appliance stores: Sales at specialty electronics and appliance stores (Best Buy, Apple stores, etc.). Not included are the electronics and appliance sales at ecommerce operations and at other brick-and-mortar retailers, such as General Merchandise stores.

  • Sales: $7.2 billion, seasonally adjusted
  • Month over month: +0.3%
  • Year over year: -2.8%
  • CPI consumer electronics: -12.0% year over year.
  • CPI appliances: +1.6% year over year.

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  132 comments for “Retail Sales Dip a Tad in Feb after Huge Spike in Jan. Year-over-Year: +5.4% Despite Price Drops in Durable Goods & Gasoline

  1. phleep says:

    “Hang myself when I get enough rope”
    — The Tubes, White Punks on Dope

    • Leo says:

      Why blame the customers. There is so much free money available for corporations as well:
      1. 10 year at 3.5%!
      2. Real negative rates even today!
      3. Fed printing unlimited money again out of thin air – this time for FDIC.
      4. AAA rated crap prevalent accross board.
      5. Even bitcoin is above $24,000.
      6. Fed reverse repos in trillions.

      You know what, the list is too long….

      • Leo says:

        Not relevant to Article:

        I am getting a Deja Vu.

        Apparently credit suizze was given $54 Billion “loan”. Suddenly all banks holding crap are “too big to fail”.

        • Garth Reimer says:

          Really? Credit Suisse Holding crap? And what crap might that be? You probably think SVB was holding crap too.

        • Yort 2.0 says:

          Per Breaking News Feed – 103 COUNTERPARTIES TAKE $2.066 TLN AT FED REVERSE REPO OPERATION.

      • Leo says:

        Correction: Fed printing unknown amount of money (not unlimited) again – this time for FDIC.

        A promise on unknown amount doesn’t have to mean unlimited amount in most cases.

        • Tony says:

          Nope, they don’t care. They suspect that over-spending comes with rewards: If their home develops negative equity they expect the Government to come to the rescue with “mortgage Moratorium” solutions….meaning no mortgage payments…

      • cas127 says:

        Leo, I get it…but…

        I’m having a tough time seeing how many/most/all of the various pandemic (and latest Fed bailout) programs actually translated into *new* *incremental* *cash* that could actually *fuel* the spending spikes.

        Maybe I’m just too tired today, but my recollection was that the vast majority of pandemic spending programs, **were replacing cash/salary that was lost because the businesses had been forced closed**.

        (Wolf, you have a strong grasp of the macro picture…where am I missing the huge *incremental* income spike (vs mere replacement) during the Pandemic? Are there any reports breaking down which program spun out truly *new* money in huge amounts?)

        Maybe at the margins excess unemployment or outright grants brought income above that which was lost…but not at the scale that would *still be spiking spending two years in* (I’m counting March 2020 to March 2021 as peak pandemic spend…there was a fair amount after, but it was tapering down). Yet, here we are 24 months later (with 12 months worth of interest rate danger/threat accumulated) and *people are still dropping shrooms, dancing naked on the freeway/in the Applebee’s, and screaming YOLO at the Walmart?*

        Not the Walmart I go to.

        The faces that I see at the Walmart are filled with stress and fear, scrutinizing the latest price hike at the last bastion of cost control.

    • douglas s hughes says:

      Oppenheimer OPY $39 someone thinks their cheap like me 66% of real book earnings $16 a share this year buy!

  2. bulfinch says:

    I come from drunken sailors; they were far more shrewd with their money than the modern buying public.

    Put it down to retail therapy/boredom relief. The order confirmation # = the yum yum pellet ejected by incessant Skinner bar depressions.

    Hell, I’m guilty, too.

    • Leo says:

      These are not drunk sailors. They are just the stupid guys that went through school and college partying instead studying.

      Many of them see their home prices on Zillow along with NAR sponsored news that reads “Home prices expected to pop 30% on Fed Pivot and low supply.”

      So they feel that they can just keep drawing on their ever increasing home equity to eternity as they are blessed to be born in America.

      If only they read wolfstreet for gaining some financial wisdom.

  3. Christof says:

    And there’s all this talk about switching to electric vehicles to get us off our addiction to the pump!
    If people wind up spending less on transportation, then we’ll never get inflation under control!

    In all seriousness, it’d be interesting to see Wolf tear into the charts for the “excuseflation” going around. To be simple, with all of the news going around, some producers are using it as chance to raise prices, rather than supply and clean up a pretty penny with more profitability. Poultry products are a big one lately. Especially in instances like Wing Stop doubling their prices when the supply chain was gummed up, but now that it’s easier and cheaper to get wings, they’re not rushing to lower prices anytime soon. No doubt this will be the case with eggs soon.
    Bloomberg has a whole thing on this.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      …it never ceases to amaze me that so many ‘champions of capitalism’ seem to genuinely detest competition, concentrating instead, on its elimination, whereas it’s customers seem to only want price stability with the occasional good deal thrown in. Toss true price discovery, (semi-) accurate accounting, thoughtful historical perspective, and add lots of ‘free’ money and whaddya get? (‘…another day older and deeper in debt…’, apologies to Merle Travis and ol’ Ern..

      may we all find a better day.

    • Flea says:

      Eggs were 1.88$ today at Aldi ,milk 1.72$ a gallon deflation.

  4. Depth Charge says:

    The raging mania Everything Bubble continues, unabated. SVB is just a sideshow of recklessness. There are anecdotes throughout the economy of continued rampant spending.

    Prior to the pandemic, if one wanted a pair of made to order Made In USA boots from a handful of bootmakers, you could place the order and they would be in production pretty much the day after you paid. They’d ship in a week or two. When the free money started, all of a sudden there were lead times that stretched out to over a year. This wasn’t from a lack of employees, it was from excess demand. And the prices…..they jacked them up massively.

    Fast forward to today and the lead times have barely budged. People are still cleaning out everything and pushing up prices. Why? Because the economy REMAINS grotesquely overheated. There is way too much money in the system, and it hasn’t even begun to diminish in any significant way.

    And those bootmakers I cited? Nearly all of these retailers have the “Buy Now Pay Later” links on their sites. There is credit available for all of it. That needs to go away. There needs to be a massive shrinking in available credit. Until that happens, we will never see much of a slowdown. This is a credit bubble.

    The FED is too slow with QT. They need to ramp it significantly, and also the rate hikes. This “soft landing” BS they’re trying to pull off is just prolonging inflation.

    • jon says:

      I totally agree that FED has been too slow with their QT and rate hikes keeping in mind the raging inflation we are facing. But my point is what FED is doing is all deliberate to help few people at the expense of millions of people.
      People say FED is group of private bankers. True in theory but practically they are part of government with power to create USD out of thin air.

      Now, we all know for whom govt works.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        How much faster do you want things to break, LOL?

        I mean, like get it all over with in one fell-swoop?

        I know that would be Depth Charge’s prescription.

        • jon says:

          Do you think that if FED/Treasury has not bailed at the expense of taxpayers SVB uninsured depositors then there’d have been havoc ?

          If I have deposited more than 250K in a bank, then I should know that above 250K is not FDIC insured.

          Or Credit Suisse not being promised to bail out by S bank ?

          All these wall street crybabies are creating scare so that FED is forced to pause or do a pivot and it is working as far as I can see.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          There is always some havoc when the fruits of Free Money vanish, but that’s what this joint needs. The haircuts wouldn’t have been huge. I’m still thinking about 30% or less, so not the end of the world.

          The good thing is that they now cannot blame a bank failure for their own failure, and that has been happening for months as they run of money the natural way.

          The good thing also is that a bank failure didn’t take down a stablecoin (USDC). Those things need to go down on their own, or not go down on their own.

        • Dannyonthespot says:

          “I got 400lbs of dried beans and rice, bring on the apocalypse!”

          All zerohedging aside I think it’s been managed relatively well. I would not enjoy seeing elderly who cannot afford retirement pushing carts in the rain or boomers who thought they finally arrived at retirement returning to the workforce.

          Eventually my generation will have to figure shit out, it might as well be now.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          I agree with DC on this question.
          The methodology to produce a soft landing is, in fact, providing cover for the Oligarchy to continue to put the eventual burden on working folks, as has always been done by the FRB since it was started to do exactly that.
          Little but firm ”crashes” when they are needed used to do the job to the benefit of every on of WE the PEONs who had enough sense to keep their gold in a jar buried in the yard — or whatever,,, and keep their debt to zero, as it should be.
          Surely WE had tons less ”stuff” back in the forties and fifties,,, but it certainly seems to me that WE enjoyed ”life” a ton more WITHOUT all the ”stuff.”
          Remember folks, ”whatever YOU HAVE HAS YOU.”

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          Dannyon – from a geezer, gawd luv ya for your last sentence – ’twas ever thus…

          may we all find a better day.

        • cas127 says:


          The thing is, if the Fed is going to continue to raise at all, things are going to break sooner or later regardless (I do get the point about instant catastrophe through).

          All those years of crap debt paper issued at 4% for 7-? years aren’t going anywhere, it is simply a matter of how much time passes for different entities to become the bagholder.

          As the Fed hikes, slow or fast, that 4% paper is going to lose value, period.

          I do understand that having more entities ruined simultaneously is worse than having the same number of entities ruined over time, but from a macro perspective I’m not sure there is that much of a difference, since anybody in finance understands the fundamental dynamic (lower coupon debt loses value as market rates rise).

        • Wolf Richter says:

          A huge gigantic thing already broke, and that’s price stability.

          They’re trying to fix it now.

      • Mike R. says:

        First of all you need to understand that the Fed wants inflation and intentionally worked towards this inflation “impulse” we experienced coming out of COVID lockdowns. The “free money” was planned and supported by the Fed as they didn’t want this crisis to go to waste. They have been toying with digital money for years now; the whole point of that concept is to be able to effect broader inflation into the economy versus the asset inflation that has resulted so far. So this time around they got their inflation “impulse” and are now managing the after effects. I’d say they are doing a pretty good job at that, the rate increases seem about right.

        The whole SVB and others blow up is a side effect/show and yes they had to restore confidence so the bailout was setup. I don’t think there is much chance of huge numbers of banks failing ilke 2009.

        The other driver for Fed policy that no one is talking about and is actually as important as slowing this recent inflationary impulse is the critical need to restore dollar strength to counter the move against dollar hegemony which is clearly happpening vis-a-vis Russia, partners and the Ukraine proxy war. So even as inflation moderates (as it will in the coming months), interest rates will stay up in the current range, IMO.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        I believe we have no other alternative to break the back of inflation than to continue what the Fed is doing and do it even faster. A hard landing is the only way out of this mess which has been created over 3 decades, and gone into overdrive in the last 3 years, with massive Federal deficits and Fed money printing.

        Some moron was on Fox business this morning with Maria B and stated that the Fed will have chose between fighting Inflation and fighting the inevitable economic downturn that their current policies are causing. He predicted the Fed will put the inflation fighting on the back burner at least until stability is restored in the banking system. He may be correct as to the path the Fed will take. So, “there we go again” as the Gipper once said”. If we take that path we may get the worst case scenerio. I call it the Jimmy Carter Stagflation on steroids, The Fed may put inflation of the back burner and we still get an economic meltdown.

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      I too wish people would pull themselves up by their bootstraps, as that would be levitation and so cool to see happen as recorded on my smartphone, and then put it on youtube, monetize the 17 million views, and live large.

      The American Dream 2.023

    • Bubbajohnson says:

      We will all have to be patient. Will take years more than likely. Trillions and trillions worth of time.

    • Gattopardo says:

      “the economy REMAINS grotesquely overheated”

      With 2% GDP?

      • cas127 says:

        2% GDP and yet 6%-8% inflation.

        I have no problem believing the national economy is actually shrinking 4% to 6% (net) but in general spending behavior adapts to new situations…and huge spikes in “food service and drinking places” (restaurants) doesn’t say spending restraint to me.

    • Digger Dave says:

      What kind of fancy boots are these? I used to buy a pair of steel toe made in the USA Redwings, but at some point they offshored, got full of themselves and the quality suffered. And although I would prefer to buy USA made, how my feet feel during long work days matters more and I have far less vanity these days, so I switched to composite toe Keens (although they still make some in the USA, the types I prefer are not made here). But when I want them, I go to the local shoe store, order them up and they show up within a few weeks. And they are ridiculously comfortable. I still get made fun of on worksites for my sissy boots and not driving a pickup truck for a personal vehicle (I have a VW station wagon as a daily driver), but I no longer care.

      • Prairie Rider says:

        D D,


        Form follows function. Go with what works.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        IIRC DD, WESCO is still making the very best boots by hand somewhere in PNW USA…
        Had one, just one because I did not know about them previously, pair that absolutely out lasted my ability to do the kind of work, work in the fields and on the slopes and in the forests, etc., that their boots are made to order to do…
        Since then, focused mainly on Rocky Boots out of the very same place in OH HI O,,, they been doing very good boots since for eva…
        They, in case the very good USA made boots that actually FIT USA feet due to the “American LAST” that they use have been a terrific BOON to WE Peons who somehow actually continue to do ”REAL STUFF.”
        As are SO many other made in USA products…

      • Depth Charge says:

        White’s, Wesco, Nick’s…..these are REAL boots meant for work that last years, not fashion pieces or glue jobs like Keen which won’t even make it 3 months on the job. I wear Keen lowtops in the summer for beating around the trails.

        This doesn’t even get into the high priced fashion boots like Alden, Viberg, John Lofgren, etc. Prices shot the moon and there were excessive wait times for those, too.

        Then there’s Role Club boots out of Los Angeles. His lead times increased to almost 2 years at one point. Once the price of his engineer boots hit $1,950, it seems demand started thinning. $2,000 boots seems to be the psychological barrier that’s hard to break through. Clinch Boots, White Kloud – they’re all pushing up against it.

        • Digger Dave says:

          My Keens are lasting more than 2 years for less than $300 and the insulated ones keep your feet toasty warm and dry in the deep snow and ice that my feet are working in all winter. The ground is frozen and the land is snow covered for months here and sometimes it gets below -20F. Steel toe boots attract cold. When I went looking for electrical hazard, composite toe, waterproof insulated boots, the options dwindled. I liked them so much I bought the non insulated pair for the rest of the season and ditched the Red Wings.

          I’m sure those are all nice boots, but I’m getting good results so far. I work with a lot of tradespeople. I don’t know anyone that wears custom made in the USA boots. Doesn’t seem to be a thrifty Yankee thing.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          DD – re: your final sentence – mebbe a decline in both the ‘Murican practice of ‘regular maintenance’ and availability of cobbler services…

          may we all find a better day.

        • Digger Dave says:

          @91B20 1stCav (AUS)

          Cobblers are long gone in these parts, This is a big country, geographically. Most of the shoe makers in the Northeast, save for a few larger ones running limited USA operations (such as New Balance), are defunct – priced out by cheap labor and resources in other regions & countries. I’m referring to a “Yankee” as a New Englander, where we have a reputation (now confined mostly to Northern New England) of not conforming to the hyper consumerist American way of life, reflected in just about everything (energy usage, miles driven, size of our homes, general thrift). The terrain – hilly – mountainous, cold long winters, rough for farming meant it was a hard life for our forbearers that depended on the land. People that couldn’t cut it headed out west. Despite planned obsolecense and weather that ruins everything (like rusting out cars due to salts used on the road) we still do our best to maintain what we have – far better than many other people here who just want new stuff and feel entitled to it (talk to the average American about their daily driver pickup truck, which they neither buy or maintain themselves, nor do they drive it anywhere but paved public roads – the entitlement runs high).

          I was surprised that there are still smaller work boot manufacturers in other parts of the US, but looking at their prices you have to be a well-off tradesperson (union in a high-cost area, for example) to be able to afford them. In the rural area I live in no one is buying $600+ boots, not when work vehicles rust out in 10 year or less and homes and equipment require constant maintenance during the weather (not to mention having regular working people for clients). There’s only so much money to go around.

          But like I said, I’m sure they’re great products and yes my Keens may have some glue in them, but you cannot completely discount mass production and technology – there’s only so many battles that you can fight. I just need to be comfortable and if my boots are more disposable than some others, so be it. Everything in moderation. Somethings more than others.

    • CreditGB says:

      “There is way too much money in the system, and it hasn’t even begun to diminish in any significant way.”

      Massive losses at the hands of malinvestment such as SVB will drain some of the excess money from the system…..

      Oh, wait, everyone is made whole. Now what?

  5. American Dream says:

    Thanks for the all the charts wolf.

    Makes it easy to draw a simple trendline through the data and even a child could see how elevated spending is basically across the board and therefore why we have inflation everywhere.

    Clearly demand is widespread and this is not an energy spike story.

    With oil looking to finally bottom out soon enough and service inflation and spending still so high the base effects that headline CPI is going to benefit from this spring and summer could easily reverse next year.

    I’m seeing this environment lasting for quite a while. It’s unfortunate that like with everything else lower income people are likely hurting the most, but I do have my fingers crossed that the speculators who benefited most from free money feel the pinch that the majority of the world lives with every day of there lives

    • Pants_Relief says:

      I’m with you on the general concept that people shouldn’t have exploited things like PPP “loans” (i.e. small time realtors misrepresenting how many employees they have so they can buy a Ferrari).

      Do you think that going through your days with your fingers crossed, hoping for vaguely defined people’s situations get worse might not be good for your own general mindset?

      • American Dream says:

        Lol I’m sure it’s not ideal to have a pessimistic attitude towards the greed and entitlement that I see everywhere around me but what can I do close my eyes and live happily ever after in some Disney fantasy land where everything is perfect.

        As a whole I consider myself a very kind and overly optimistic person so my jaded mindset is somewhat confined. Overall I just want people to get what they deserve for better or for worse. Appreciate the sentiment tho

        • cas127 says:

          Besides the hopefully sincere Covid fraud clawback programs in place, there have always been “qui tam”/fraud on the government laws that incentivize whistleblowers.

          Maybe the G needs to supercharge these programs and really sic ravenous plaintiff lawyers on the Covid fraudsters (not kidding…at all).

        • cas127 says:

          Apparently the beast actually exists…

          Came up in rando Google search.

          If the G supercharges things like this (new statutes, looser regs, etc) a decent amount of Covid fraud might be clawed back (plaintiff firms, smelling real money, are relentless…might as well put them in the service of the public)

    • Dannyonthespot says:

      Motorcycles are finally coming down in price.
      It’s a good category to watch for “hype and hoopla” spending. Everyone imagines themselves differently when they buy one, but the truth is it’s not for everyone in America (maybe SE Asia).

      Old beat up Hondas we’re going for three grand which is CRAZY. I’m finally seeing people trying to move their Covid purchases for what the market will bear. Which is great for me since I use a bike as my primary mode of transport year round.

  6. Peter Bull says:

    Consumers aren’t interested in a hard landing or a soft landing or any landing at all.

  7. longstreet1963 says:

    Get on a country club wIt list

    Not a recession when restaurants packed

    • bulfinch says:

      A broken system held fast with hot & hasty 24 karat Kintsugi oozing out from the web of fissures.

  8. Skeezix says:

    New retiree here. And yes, I’m still spending money like a drunken sailor!

  9. Wolf Richter says:

    I did my part today to crank up retail sales in March, in the Food and Beverage Store category: I scored four 12-packs of Sierra Nevada Powder Day IPA (a seasonal IPA) at my local Safeway, which had it on sale for St. Patrick’s day at $11.77 per 12-pack, compared to full-pop sticker of $20.99, and about $19 with my no-name loyalty card.

    Since I’m on foot, that’s about as much as I want to carry. I’ll check back tomorrow for another four 12-packs if they still have any.

    I’m gonna load up on this stuff while I can. I’m gonna spend money like a drunken sailor. The beer inflation really pissed me off, and this is going to help my mood a lot.

    So don’t be surprised if retail sales spike in March. Just FYI

    • bulfinch says:

      Doing my part: I bought two bags of expensive espresso coffee beans, some good tobacco, a used soundtrack on LP, a bottle of Calvados and a buncha halogen bulbs because they make stuff look good and I’m worried they’re going away eventually. All of it overpriced as hell, but some really damn’d nice seasonings.

    • Prairie Rider says:

      That’s a nice visual image you set up. I can see you marching home from the store all 48 beers in hand. Good workout for the quads if you’ve got steep hills to climb too.

      With a backpack, perhaps you could be even more loaded up???

      Bitburger Drive has gone from $8.99 a sixer to $12.99 in the last year. Moritz 0.0 from Barcelona, a good Munich style helles, is still $7.99, but yeah, the zero ABV brews in my fridge are quite spendy.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Two 12-packs in the backpack, one in each hand, and up the hill fast for free exercise (extra bonus, on top of the savings on the beer).

        Buying beer should be fun; I don’t want to feel like a beast of burden on the way back.

        • Zero Sum Game says:

          Wolf, I was always concerned that drinking too much alcohol would lead to brain damage and brain rotting. When I was a teenager my school showed me the sliced brain of a heavy alcohol drinker cadaver compared to a teetotaler. The alcoholic brain had all kinds of ugly red rivulet scars while the teetotaler brain was smooth pink.

          And yet….you constantly crank out such brilliant articles filled with such delicious insight and clarity time after time, nonstop. So the whole thing about alcohol and the brain leaves me highly confused now as to where I might be misinformed.

          I do occasionally partake in alcohol…maybe 40 beers/year total.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          I can assure you that I go for taste and pleasure of taste, not quantity. Actual amounts are small. I hate it when my mind gets foggy.

        • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

          ZSG – worry not, the evidence for dain bramage is highly exaggerated…

          may we all find a better day.

        • Zero Sum Game says:

          91B20 1stCav:

          Thanks for your reassurances, and I really hope you’re correct. I definitely understand the appeal of kicking back a few cold beers for relaxation.

          My state just recently legalized recreational weed, and true to my college days I might substitute it for alcohol a bit more.

          A semi-interesting topic, to be sure, but I will take a bow to Wolf’s posting guidelines and not dive too deeply away from retail sales here.

        • bulfinch says:

          Korsakoff Syndrome—caused by years of high-volume alcohol consumption. You get to that point and your liver’ll sink you before you have to worry about your wetware. The key is pleasure; once beer or whatever is no longer truly enjoyable or it becomes devitalizing, cease all deposits.

          If your desire is to keep your brain in showroom condition so that someone can split it in half one day and showcase the pinky goodness in store at the end of a life of abstemiousness, well, then…there’s that, too.

    • Beer Lady says:

      Ugh, beer prices. It was the last grocery item to be substituted in my household but I finally caved and settled on some private label IPA from Trader Joe’s @ $4.99/6pk. It’s not as good so I drink less, and now I fit into my skinny jeans so there is no need to spend $ on new pants. Triple win! Thanks inflation!

    • Fed up says:

      Awesome price on the IPA. $19 for 12 pack of Voodoo Ranger or Stone Delicious IPA at Wally World. Would love to see it for $11.77, any IPA. Even Total Wine isn’t that low.

    • stegelberg says:

      And just when I thought I couldn’t admire you more it turns out you’re a beer man!
      Good thinking, I’ve been stockpiling underpriced(IMO) beers in my garage shed for a couple years now:
      Stoutella by Lervig
      Cuvee van der Keizer Imperial Dark by Golden Carolus
      Grand Cru by Rodenback
      And a shitload of different IPA’s, you should try the norwegian Salikatt brewery if you can find some, it’s awesome ;-)

      • stegelberg says:

        Although to stock IPA’s is not the best, some brewers that have a new higher density can line holds the hop aroma a lot longer ;-)

      • Between The Lines says:

        Beer has a pull date, you better pay attention!

    • Harry Houndstooth says:

      Do you put the Wolfstreet mug in the freezer before pouring in the brew?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        No. I like my beer not too cold. I pour it into a room-temperature mug and let it sit for a few minutes for it to settle down. I can taste the flavors better that way.

        However, about five times a year I have a coke out of a frozen mug, no ice. I love that.

  10. Petunia says:

    I went to a local shopping area this past Monday. The entire place was packed with people shopping, strolling, and eating out. The restaurant we had lunch in was very busy.

    The Zara’s, an affordable women’s retailer, had a line of over a dozen people waiting to use the fitting rooms. It reminded me of the sales at Loehmann’s decades ago.

    I spent a lot this past year, now I’m feeling very tapped out.

    • Following Seas says:

      Tis the “season” Petunia.. Give it till June for the crash and burn to start. September will be telling!

  11. Ed C says:

    What cheap gas? Here in the Phoenix area I paid $4.49 for regular at my nearest gas station the last time I filled up.

    • Anthony A. says:

      $2.79 at our local Costco today for RUG…… Texas location.

      • Fed up says:

        Filled up at Costco two weeks ago in Phoenix and it was 3.79 and keeps going higher.

    • Fed up says:

      Yep, I’m in Phoenix as well. Can’t believe how quickly gas has gone up here.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        $5.59 at my gas station from hell, LOL.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          Looks like Wolf changed the name of his “gas station from heck” to “gas station from HELL”. Good move.

      • Swamp Creature says:

        The County Executive here in Mont Commie County just announced today an 8% increase in property taxes for next year. That’s another one of those items in Service inflation that is mandatory spending in your monthly budget. You either pay it or have the government take your home.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          and probably the real reason SO many folks are moving to FL these days, and also ”hanging on” in CA…
          IF politicians of each and any stripe really want to help WE the PEONs,,, they would make it so that ”property taxes” could not rise more than ONE or similar PER CENT per year no matter what subsequent political puppets might try to do…
          Somehow, FL and CA have passed this into very well accepted law.
          CA has subsequently done everything possible on the legislative level to continue to raise ”FEES” etc., etc.
          FL has pretty well held the line.
          Tune in next week to see IF and HOW these benefits that clearly extend to ALL of WE PEONs no matter what color, age, ethnic background, gender ID, etc., etc. either continue or not…
          WE can hope, eh???

        • Following Seas says:

          VintageVet.. Property taxes in Florida are based on your assed value which is a certain percentage of your purchase price. Those that are new to the state start with a much higher floor. Increases in assessed value are limited to no more than 3% a year. Homes in the same neighborhood the same model and age can have different asset values and pay wildly different property taxes. New Florida residents like those in the Texas Suburbs will begin to notice and feel the tax deductible limitations of SALT. Their pain will increase even more with the spring increase in homeowners insurance and auto. With Florida’s state budget based on lots of real estate sales and doc stamps. DeSantis golden gdp years are soon to be toast.

        • MM says:

          Property taxes should not rise at all if the property itself is the same.

          Increasing taxes on the same property is akin to taxing unrealized gains.

          If my house “goes up in value” but I live in it for the rest of my life, I’m being taxed on appreciation that I’ll never realize.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          Oops I was wrong. it is a 10 cent increase per $100 of assessed valuation. That’s 10% increase in property taxes. Put that in Wolfs’ service inflation along with my 9% increase in BC/BS premiums, and my 25% increase in my Sears Home appliance rip-off warrantee. Need I say more. And now the Fed is going to put fighting Inflation on the back burning while they bail out the entire banking system.

          The Teachers need the money for a big pay raise. After all, they worked so hard the last few years doing nothing while schools were closed.

  12. Gattopardo says:

    This is clearly a great time to start smoking weed (and just in time, given events) and buying appliances. I’m in!

  13. DUKE says:

    Are all these adjusted to 2008 dollar value?
    Or is the increase partly due to devalued USD?

    I’m starting to see some great lease deals on vehicles. And plenty of availability showing online.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      READ THE ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • DUKE says:

        I did 3 times now. Everything says seasonally adjusted.
        I’m sure the charts are in real terms. I just don’t know where to look I guess.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          You didn’t read anything at all.

          In the title: “Despite Price Drops in Durable Goods & Gasoline”

          In the 2nd paragraph: “Nah, goods inflation has subsided, gasoline got cheaper than it was a year ago, and a whole lot cheaper than it was in June, durable goods prices have dropped, as inflation has shifted into services…”

          Then use the search function in your browser (Ctrl F) and search for CPI. You will find 12 CPI data points for specific retailer categories.

          There was no mention of elephants either. So don’t ask me if it includes elephants, LOL

  14. Danno says:

    On the other end of the $$ spending spectrum, I shop Salvation Army and Goodwill on occasion.

    Prices have gone up, quality has gone down and the quality of vehicles in the parking lot has greatly improved as well.

    In the past, many quality items were found per trip. Now, I’m lucky if I find a score one out of four visits..People are donating less, the mid to upper end shopper is utilizing thrift stores more and the make a quick buck flipping products shopper is a common sight.

    • gametv says:

      Nearly my whole wardrobe is thrift store stuff. Some great stuff. My wife and daughter are thrift shopping royalty.

      • bulfinch says:

        Sally Army’s the best. Gotta be patient.

        • rodolfo says:

          To s ore good now at thrift store in my limited experience I need to concentrate on non SA or goodwill places such as like animal rescue, church sales, garage sales. Also know the senior discount days.
          Used to be its a chore

        • rodolfo says:

          To score good now at thrift store in my limited experience I need to concentrate on non SA or goodwill places such as like animal rescue, church sales, garage sales. Also know the senior discount days.
          Used to be its a chore

    • Swamp Creature says:

      I do all my clothes shopping at a Non-profit charity thrift store nearby. I haven’t been to a retail clothing store in 10 years. I also donate to the same thrift store.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      …an insightful observation on society’s true economic state (…what is the threshold for ‘charity begins at home’?…).

      may we all find a better day.

  15. The Falcon says:

    Settle in this is going to be a long ride. My parents and aunts/uncles lived through the crazy inflation 50 years ago. 10 year round trip. History doesn’t repeat itself, but….well, you know.

  16. American Dream says:


    Any thoughts on retail control group being +.5% this month?

    My understanding is that this is a decent indicatior of PCE prices?


    • Wolf Richter says:

      PCE price index for goods isn’t going to rise 0.5% for Feb. It’s going to be close to flat. What’s going to spike is services, and retailers don’t sell services.

  17. Depth Charge says:

    Meanwhile, new auto inventories have never even remotely recovered. Looking at a chart of current available vehicles shows most brands and models are still down way over 50%, with some down almost 90% from April of 2020. 2 years ago in spring of 2021, the “experts” told us that auto inventories would be recovering in 6 months – the fall of 2021. It’s been 18 months and there’s been almost no improvement.

    The supply of VW Jettas is down 89%. Subaru Foresters are down 83%. Ram 3500s are down 81%. Honda Civics are down 79%. This is a full on clown show at this point.

    The decision to print trillions of dollars to juice demand directly in the face of production shutdowns is only something that a mentally handicapped person could come up with. They just broke everything with their ridiculous printing display.

    • Petunia says:

      I have seen the articles here and elsewhere about the car shortages. However, everybody in my neighborhood has two new cars in the driveway, except me. The stats don’t match what I see, which are new Teslas, sports cars, and trucks everywhere.

      • Tom15 says:

        You live in a very nice neighborhood.
        Out here in rural flyover I’m like most of my neighbors. Lowest milage vehicle we have between business and personal is at 155k.

        We do the maintenance, and scan the auctions. Used prices are moving down,
        new….don’t bother looking.

        I would imagine we are at or close to
        record for fleet age in the US.

        Auto shops, if they can collect payments, are doing well.

      • Swamp Creature says:


        Same here.

        I noticed a dude is parking his gigantic GM $80,000 Truck on the street in front of the “Rental Property from Hell”, right next door to me. He leaves it there all week except when he goes on a job, but never goes into the house. I believe he is a contractor and is paying the lady to rent the street in front of her house. Some HOA’s around here don’t allow trucks to be parked permanently in front of residences homes. No HOA rules here. It is an eyesore to say the least.

      • Depth Charge says:

        That’s because they juiced demand so much Petunia that these vehicles never even really make it to dealer lots or overall inventory. They are gone as fast as they come in. There’s too much money sloshing around, and too much demand. We have never needed a recession so badly to cool this demand and price inflation.

        • Swamp Creature says:

          I noticed 4 Tesla’s parked next to me at the local Pharmacy. I think there are a lot people around here that aren’t hurting for money at all. The Swamp is ground zero for the rich sucking money out of hard working folks. Disgusting!

      • SnotFroth says:

        Maybe DC can clarify if by “supply” he means inventory. Because if so, everyone having a new car matches up with available inventories being down.

  18. old school says:

    NC is flush with money. There is debate in legislature to give teachers an 18% raise spread over two years. Duke Power is asking for 16% rate increase.

    My friend is a paralegal for a business software company and just got a big raise and a bonus in a work from home job. Its been a good three years for her since pandemic. Got rid of a one hour each way commute.

    • longstreet says:

      There is still WAY TOO MUCH money sloshing around out there. The COVID excuse for TRILLIONS dispensed willy nilly.
      And now the “banking crisis”…..go figure.

      • Einhal says:

        If the Fed doesn’t raise rates next week, it’ll lose all credibility. It’ll basically confirm what doubters have said all along, that the system is so fragile that interest rates can never be normalized, and that the Fed’s “inflation fighting” would only last until there was any hint of pain anywhere.

        If that happens, that’ll be the final nail in the coffin for the dollar. I think on some level the Fed knows that. I’m surprised that the market is pricing in a 66% chance of no raise.

        • Johnny5 says:

          The fact that the market is pricing in no hike next week gives me confidence that the Fed will hike 25bps. The market’s track record on forecasting rate hikes has been crap.

  19. Donny says:

    No signs of rising layoffs. Sry perma bears

    • Wolf Richter says:

      “Perma bears”??? You’re referring to who? Did you ever even read a single article here? Wolf Street has been one of the few sites out there that have for over a year said that consumers aren’t landing, soft or otherwise — see this article right here — that the labor market isn’t landing either, that companies are hiring as fast as they can find people, that wages are surging, that consumers are working and spending money like drunken sailors, and that the economy continues to defy predictions, and we still don’t have a recession – in part because there is still way too much pandemic money floating around out there.

      And inflation continues to rage in services, and rates are going higher and staying there longer as a consequence, and QT continues. And it’s a simple fact: the end of easy money has consequences on the markets.

      You need to find the “perma bears” somewhere else.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        …seems CH remains stubbornly deep seated…

        may we all find a better day.

  20. Mike R. says:

    The have to raise at least .25%. More to make a statement about the stability of the system than inflation.

  21. patrick says:

    here its spending out a fire hose-and i know defending mr powell is not popular-but here is an example of what he is up against – my wife had lunch with a friend of hers who is cfo of united way here – she has a great overview of the non-profits in the region- she told my wife for the first time in her 33 year career in non-profits -” we are fully funded and every grant request we submit to the federal government is fully funded – we have actually had them contact us and ask us to increase the funding request – we have expanded programs and added many new ones and dramatically increased salaries at all levels ” all very interesting

    • elbowwilham says:

      When the government spends like a drunken sailor, it influences the people.

  22. Juliab says:

    Despite concerns about the banking sector, the ECB raised interest rates by 0.5 basis points to counter core inflation, which hit a record high in February. I strongly hope the Fed continues the attack with a minimum. 25 on March 22

  23. Michael Engel says:

    Retail sales and general merchandise sales are topping, but the number
    of restaurants, bars and retail entities dropped by a third since Trump.
    MCD Time Square, the biggest and the most profitable in the world, became a homeless shelter, but the smaller MCD nearby are getting their business. Many blocks end to end have shuttered retail store and scaffolds.
    CS was forced to expose it’s secret customers list. CS lost it’s secret sauce. The global rats escaped CS and other Swiss banks.

  24. Degobah Smith says:

    When this whole s**t show hits the skids, the yard sales are going to be spectacular! Even better than 2009/2010. It never fails to astonish me… the random stuff people will accumulate in the good times – and then dump for pennies when the bottom falls out. And, it always falls out.

  25. longstreet says:

    “…spending like drunken sailors”

    and this from a guy who likes to sail and just bought a bunch of beer.

    • Michael Engel says:

      to swim with the sharks.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      DegoS – re: thrift store talk above, yard sales of items formerly donated to charities?…

      may we all find a better day.

  26. Moi says:

    So question… How much of this spending is credit (plastic). Be nice to see a correlation.
    Wolfs job, sorry.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Nearly everything in retail except motor vehicles (and even there) is paid for with credit cards, online, everywhere. And almost all of it gets paid off before due date. About $5 trillion a year flow through credit cards as a payments method, and people collect 1% or 2% in cash back. The actual balances outstanding that accrue interest are not reported, and we don’t know what they are, but are estimated to be around $500 billion. And increase of $20 billion in that interest-accruing balance to $520 billion would mean $20 billion in additional borrowing to fund purchases. But following the holiday spree, credit card balances decline in the spring.

  27. Dr Duration says:

    Not that anything matters or connects to reality, here’s what FDIC said in a report last summer:

    This paper suggests that rising bank concentration has important implications for monetary policy transmission and effectiveness. For the conduct of optimal monetary policy, both market power and capitalization of banks should be taken into account and considered jointly. The results indicate that monetary policy became more potent over time. In other words, nowadays, the central bank needs to adjust the policy rate by less to achieve a similar effect on output, though there are limited effects on inflation.

    * in other words, the economy as a casino provides an economy that’s more concentrated and volatile.

  28. CCCB says:

    Why does everyone keep blaming the Fed for everything? Just because money is/was cheap and readily available doesnt mean we have to borrow and spend until we cant sleep at night.

    If theres a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet do you eat until you puke and then go back and do it again? Thats exaclty what’s been happening with consumers – buying unnecessary crap and spending money on services they dont need or could do themselves if they just watched a few you tube videos.

    Shopping, especially online, has become a major addiction. I’m about to start an AA franchise – Amazon Anonymous – and sign up my wife as a charter member, lol.

    If we’d all live within our means and stop mortgaging our futures with easy credit, we’d actually be happy the fed is tightening. We’d make more interst on our savings!

    Save – def.

    – to lay up money as the result of economy or thrift
    – to rescue from danger or possible harm, injury, or loss

    Too much debt always ends badly.

    • Einhal says:

      I hear your point, but the fact is, the vast majority of Americans are like children, who act impulsively and don’t think more than 5 minutes into the future. Knowing that, the Fed should have known better than to provide a huge bowl of candy to a 5 year old, expecting him to take just one.

      • Flea says:

        So funny went to pick up taxes had 3 year old ,with me found candy bowl ,told him take one we settled at 3 .No temper tantrum in public

  29. Putter says:

    I knew this country was in trouble when “layaway” was replaced by credit cards.

  30. WellHedged says:

    I quit buying stuff. Where can I find a sailor?

  31. dk says:

    I asked around a little, people are telling me “Well we haven’t bought any _______ in what seems like years so we went and stocked up a little.
    Everybody remarked about the higher prices, but with a time lag like that it’s not that shocking to the wallet.
    And lots of people spent their relief checks on computer equipment, so they’re not buying new stuff there for a year or two at least.

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