Inquiring minds are looking at the Advance Monthly Retail Sales For October.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $363.7 billion, a
decrease of 2.8 percent from the previous month and 4.1 percent below October 2007.

Total sales for the August through October 2008 period were down 1.3 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The August to September 2008 percent change was revised from –1.2 percent to –1.3 percent.

Retail trade sales were down 3.1 percent from September 2008 and were 5.0 percent below last year. Motor vehicle and parts dealers sales were down 23.4 percent (±2.1%) from October 2007 and sales of furniture and home furnishings stores sales were down 13.5 percent from last year.

Autos Collapse

The biggest factor in plunging retail sales is autos. A chart will help put this into perspective.

Retail Sales Month Over Month

Retail Sales Year Over Year

Bloomberg is reporting U.S. Treasuries Gain as Retail Sales Plunge by Most on Record

Treasuries rose, led by longer-term securities, as a report showed U.S. retail sales fell the most on record in October, driving investors to the relative safety of government debt.

The rally in longer-term securities amid concern that a deepening slump will further erode corporate earnings narrowed the yield difference between two- and 10-year notes from a five- year high. Freddie Mac asked the Treasury for $13.8 billion to keep its net worth above zero. The Group of 20 heads of state meet in Washington amid divisions over what steps to take to shore up the slowing global economy.

“The Treasury market is factoring in a very weak economy,” said Gary Pollack, who helps oversee $12 billion as head of fixed-income trading at Deutsche Bank AG’s Private Wealth Management unit in New York. “Given the economic outlook and with some supply behind us, we have some green lights for lower yields.”

Sales at U.S. retailers dropped 2.8 percent last month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. It was the fourth consecutive drop and the biggest since records began in 1992.

Learning To Live Without

Big ticket items are the first to go as it’s relatively easy to postpone putting off buying a new car. However, the frugality mindset eventually reaches the stage where every possible expense is reduced, yes, even nail salons, no matter how difficult that is.

Please consider Learning to live without.

When economic times got tough, Selena Alexander got tougher – on her budget. Alexander, 56, is the mental health/disabilities coordinator at Childhood Development Services. The Star-Banner asked Alexander how she’s cutting back. Here’s an edited transcript of her responses:

The hardest thing for me to do was stop getting my nails done. It took me a good eight to 12 weeks to make up my mind about my nails.

I was serious about my nails. For eight years, I got my nails done every two weeks or at least once a month. I was spending $45 to $50 a month on pedicure and manicures. I don’t do it at all anymore. That was hard for me. Now, I use Nutra Nail Green Tea. It’s a growth treatment for nails. I’ve got nails. They’re not long, but they’re long enough.

I don’t go to the hair salon anymore. I used to get partial weaves and that costs $65. I just do my hair myself at home. I either keep it rolled in curls and go or just wear wigs.

About five or six months ago, I decided to bring my lunch to work four days a week. I used to bring it twice a week. I also cut down on snack shopping. I was spending more money on snack food and sandwich food.

I cut the cable to just basic cable. It was more than $90 a month and now it’s $40. As long as I can watch the news and my granddaughter (who visits often) can watch cartoons, I’m happy.

I’m seeing a big difference in my electric bill. I do laundry once a week, instead of three times a week. (For her and her 18-year-old son, who lives with her.) I don’t use hot water to wash clothes.

I’ve always been a yard fanatic, but the economy has changed my mind. About three and a half months ago I stopped using the sprinkler system. I just let God water it like he’s been doing it.

The grass is turning brown in spots. It used to worry me at first, but now it doesn’t so much.

I sat down and really took a long time to think about what I could really get rid of. I thought about what was important. I’m saving a good $300 a month. But the trick is that you have to watch that you don’t spend it somewhere else.

I’m going to have to stick with what I’m doing for at least another year or year and a half because I don’t think the economy is going to change anytime soon. I wish I had done this a year ago. It took not having spending money to do this.

Secret Is Out

The nail salon industry will hate me for this but I am spilling the beans on the biggest secret in the nail industry.

Nutra Nail promises longer, stronger, beautiful nails in just 7 days … guaranteed.

By the way, this is not really an endorsement. I have no idea if this stuff works or not. If it does, I am pleased to do may part to keeping nails beautiful in these frugal times. It will be interesting to see if Google ads pick up on this and start displaying beauty products on this blog.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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