Business Sales Slump, Inventories Up for April
Business sales are down, and inventories are up, according to an April Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.
Seasonally adjusted sales took a 0.1% dip, to $1,268 billion, for April. While retailers maintained steady sales, a 0.7% drop-off in manufacturing outweighed a 0.5% increase in merchant wholesalers. In the last year, a 3.5% boost in retail sales has provided the primary push for a 1.5% increase in total business sales. Manufacturing is up 0.6% in the last 12 months, while merchant wholesalers have managed a 0.7% increase.
As sales dipped, April inventories headed up a seasonally adjusted 0.3%, to $1,657 billion. The moves mostly mimic sales, with a 0.4% increase in retail inventories leading the way. Manufacturers and merchant wholesaler supplies are both up 0.2% for April. In the last year, overall inventories are up 4.2%.
To understand the rate at which goods are being made and sold, economists compute an inventories/sales ratio. Since sales fell and inventories rose from March to April, the inventories/sales ratio increased to 1.31, compared to March's 1.30 value. The April 2012 ratio was 1.27.
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