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Economy in Brief

Wholesale Inventories Grow While Sales Decline
by Gerald D. Cohen  February 1, 2019

Wholesale inventories increased 0.3% month-on-month (6.5% year-over-year) during November, following an upwardly revised 0.9% gain in October. The release of this data was delayed by the government shutdown.

Wholesale sales declined 0.6% during November (+4.0% y/y), the second consecutive monthly decline of this magnitude. October's reading was revised down from -0.2%. The Action Economics Forecast Survey looked for just a 0.1% decrease.

The inventory-to-sales (I/S) ratio at the wholesale level rose to 1.29, the fourth consecutive monthly gain. Still, the I/S ratio remains well below the cycle peak of 1.38 reached in February 2016.

The wholesale trade figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectations for sales are in the AS1REPNA database.

Wholesale Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
Inventories 0.3 0.9 0.7 6.5 3.6 2.2 1.3
Sales -0.6 -0.6 0.1 4.0 7.4 -1.3 -4.9
I/S Ratio 1.29 1.28 1.27 1.26 (Nov '17) 1.30 1.35 1.33
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