Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Nov 15 2023

U.S. Business Inventories Rise Steadily While Sales Increase in September

  • Retail inventories rise strongly while wholesale & factory inventories edge higher.
  • Wholesale sales surge; factory shipments moderate.
  • Business sector inventory-to-sales ratio eases.

Total business inventories rose 0.4% in September (1.3% y/y), the same as in August. The increase matched expectations in the Informa Global Markets Survey. The latest increases followed stability since late last year.

Retail inventories rose 0.9% (5.5% y/y) following a 1.0% August increase. Motor vehicle & parts inventories increased 2.1% in September (21.7% y/y) after a 2.4% August rise. Excluding autos, retail inventories increased 0.4% (-0.1% y/y) following a 0.5% advance in August. Clothing & accessory store inventories rose 0.6% (2.6% y/y) after 0.7% gain. Food & beverage store inventories increased 0.3% (3.4% y/y) as they did in August. General merchandise store inventories edged 0.1% higher in September and were unchanged y/y, following a 0.2% rise. Department store inventories, however, fell 0.8% (-9.2% y/y) after rising 0.6% August. Falling for the seventh consecutive month, furniture, electronics & appliance inventories were off by 0.8% (-11.6% y/y).

Reported earlier, wholesale inventories rose 0.2% (-1.2% y/y) after falling for six consecutive months. Factory inventories rose 0.2% (0.1% y/y) after rising 0.3% in August.

Total business sales increased 1.1% (1.6% y/y) in September after rising 1.4% in August. Merchant wholesale sales jumped 2.2% (0.9% y/y), the third straight month of strong increase. Factory sector shipments rose 0.4% (0.6% y/y) following a 1.3% August rise. Retail sales rose 0.8% (3.2% y/y), the same as they did in August.

As sales rose faster than inventories in September, the total I/S ratio eased to 1.36 from 1.37. It was the lowest ratio since October of last year, but up from a low of 1.27 in October 2021. The manufacturing I/S ratio was unchanged at 1.46 in September. The wholesale I/S ratio fell sharply to 1.33 in September from 1.36 in August, while the retail I/S ratio edged up to 1.31, its highest since May 2020.

The manufacturing and trade data are in Haver’s USECON database. The Informa Global Markets forecast is in the MMSAMER database.

  • Prior to joining Haver Analytics in 2000, Mr. Moeller worked as the Economist at Chancellor Capital Management from 1985 to 1999. There, he developed comprehensive economic forecasts and interpreted economic data for equity and fixed income portfolio managers. Also at Chancellor, Mr. Moeller worked as an equity analyst and was responsible for researching and rating companies in the economically sensitive automobile and housing industries for investment in Chancellor’s equity portfolio.   Prior to joining Chancellor, Mr. Moeller was an Economist at Citibank from 1979 to 1984.   He also analyzed pricing behavior in the metals industry for the Council on Wage and Price Stability in Washington, D.C.   In 1999, Mr. Moeller received the award for most accurate forecast from the Forecasters' Club of New York. From 1990 to 1992 he was President of the New York Association for Business Economists.   Mr. Moeller earned an M.B.A. in Finance from Fordham University, where he graduated in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from George Washington University.

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