Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| Dec 07 2023

U.S. Wholesale Inventories & Sales Decline in October

  • Inventories fall with lower oil prices.
  • Sales weaken sharply.
  • Inventory-to-sales ratio edges higher.

Wholesale inventories declined 0.4% (-2.3% y/y) during October after holding steady in September, revised from a 0.2% increase. The Informa Global Markets Survey expected a 0.2% decline. Wholesale inventories have been declining since November of last year in contrast to a 17.3% accumulation during 2022.

Durable goods inventories rose 0.1% in October (2.0% y/y) after a 0.2% September rise. Automotive inventories were fairly steady (+12.8% y/y). Machinery inventories rose 0.4% (16.1% y/y) and electrical equipment inventories increased 0.9% (-3.3% y/y). To the downside, inventories of lumber & other construction materials were off 0.3% (-8.3% y/y). Hardware & plumbing product inventories declined 0.7% (-4.9% y/y) while furniture & appliance inventories fell 0.5% (-15.2% y/y) after two straight 1.7% declines. Metals and minerals inventories were off 0.3% (-5.7% y/y). Professional & commercial equipment inventories weakened 0.2% (-7.1% y/y).

Nondurable goods inventories moved 1.0% lower (-8.9% y/y) following ten consecutive monthly declines. Most categories showed inventory decumulation. The value of petroleum inventories fell 6.8% (-15.3% y/y) and grocery inventories eased 0.6% (-4.5 y/y). Apparel inventories were off 0.6% (-20.3% y/y) while chemical inventories declined 1.0% (-13.2% y/y). Paper & paper product inventories fell 0.5% (-19.3% y/y) but farm product inventories rose 1.7% (-25.1% y/y).

Wholesale sales declined 1.3% (-0.4% y/y) in October following three straight monthly increases. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a 0.7% increase. Durable goods sales fell 0.5% (-2.2% y/y) as motor vehicle sales weakened 2.6% (+1.2% y/y) and electrical equipment sales were off 0.7% (-1.3% y/y). Furniture sales were off 3.5% (-6.9%) while machinery sales fell 0.9% (+0.7% y/y). Working higher, professional equipment sales rose 0.4% (-3.1% y/y).

Nondurable goods sales fell 2.0% (+1.2% y/y) as petroleum sales declined 5.9% (-1.4% y/y). Apparel sales fell 2.5% (-8.1% y/y) and chemical sales moved 2.9% lower (-9.6% y/y). Paper products sales weakened 1.0% (-10.0% y/y) and farm product sales fell 3.8% (-4.6% y/y). Purchases of grocery products declined 1.0% (+0.8% y/y).

The wholesale inventory-to-sales (I/S) ratio edged up to 1.34 in October from 1.33 in September. It remained down from a June high of 1.41. The I/S ratio for durable goods rose to 1.83 from 1.82 while the ratio for nondurable goods rose to 0.93 from 0.92, the lowest level since November 2014.

The wholesale trade figures are available in Haver’s USECON database. The expectations figure for inventories is contained in the MMSAMER database. Expectations for sales are in the AS1REPNA 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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