Retail Sales Jump Due to Hurricane Impact: GDP Impact?

Retail sales in September increased 1.6 percent from August. Hurricane impacts are clearly in play.

The Census Department Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services report shows seasonally-adjusted retail and food services sales for September 2017,were $483.9 billion, an increase of 1.6 percent from August. The hurricane Impacts are noticeable.

Percentage Gains From August

  • Retail trade sales rose 1.7 percent
  • Motor vehicles rose 3.6%
  • Building materials rose 2.1%
  • Gasoline rose 5.8%

In contrast, electronics, health care, sporting good and hobbies, department stores, and miscellaneous retailers were all lower.

Continuing the trend towards online shopping, nonstore retailers rose 0.5%

GDP Impact?

A separate census report shows Inventories also rose today. Thus, on the surface, it may look like a big boost to GDP is coming.

However, Income was lost. Stores in impacted areas were closed.

I am also unsure what happens to the valuation of change in private inventories (CIPI). Inventories were destroyed and replaced. It's a crap shoot how the BEA will calculate the impact on inventories.

William Dudley, New York Fed president, says Hurricane Effect to Provide Long Run Benefit.

Dudley is wrong. Hurricanes are not good for the economy. If they were, Puerto Rico would be a bastion of strength.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

No. 1-6

So Dudley is confidently spouting the broken window fallacy? What an embarrassment for an economist, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised. Whenever people tell me how omnipotent they think the Fed is (which usually is mentioned in the context of all sorts of things they allegedly "won't allow to happen"), I remind them that we are talking of a bunch of utterly clueless economic illiterates. So I guess I should be grateful to Dudley for helping me make my point, but unfortunately these people actually do wield quite a bit of power, and all of it destructive.


Interesting commenting system. How long do new comments keep getting added to the previous comment?


Sorry, not used to the commenting system. Does no one realize that that statement renders the data into meaningless gibberish?


"Data adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading day differences but not for price changes."

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock


Puerto Rico was destroyed by graft and ineptitude. The hurricane only applied the finishing touch.