CHART OF THE DAY: The Retail Sales Second Derivative Is On Fire

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Dissecting today’s advance retail sales data shows that trends improved for everything, except auto-related sales due to cash for clunkers. This is strong.

The data beat expectations, with overall retail sales down 1.5% vs. an expected negative 2.1%. While 1.5% is the largest drop since December of last year, it was due to the end of cash for clunkers.

The chart below takes September’s year over year (YoY) sales change (Sep 09 vs. Sep 08) and subtracts August’s year over year sales change (Aug 09 vs. Aug 08). It thus shows the change in change. Yes, this matters: American retail trends have to become less negative before they go positive.

And that’s exactly what is happening. While sales continued to fall for many categories, the rate of decline slowed down substantially, improving by the amount in green shown below for each.

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