Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

These People Are Idiots – Retail Spending Falls To Record Lows

We’re told by the assembled press of the nation that retail sales have fallen to their lowest level ever. This is of course idiocy and no such thing has happened. Not in the slightest. If we actually had the occasional numerate person working in the UK press then this mistake would not happen. For they’ve confused the rate of change – the acceleration perhaps – with the level – say, the speed. Which is, indeed, idiocy with numbers:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]UK consumer spending falls to record low[/perfectpullquote]

Well, OK, that’s a headline, allow some slack there.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]July’s hot weather failed to boost consumer spending in the UK which fell to a new low amid Brexit uncertainty and slow real wage growth.[/perfectpullquote]

No, actually, it didn’t fall and it’s not at a record low. As the next line tells us:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Average retail sales over the year to July rose by 0.5% – a record low according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG.[/perfectpullquote]

The increase in retail spending is at a record low – not the level, which as we can see is half a percent up on that previous level.

The Guardian’s no better than the BBC:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]

British retailers have recorded the worst month for sales in July since records began, as consumers tighten their belts with Brexit approaching.

No they haven’t, don’t be stupid.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]According to British Retail Consortium sales data compiled by the accountancy firm KPMG, total sales increased by 0.3% in July, compared with a rise of 1.6% in July last year.[/perfectpullquote]

Sales are that 0.3% better than last year, aren’t they?

The Week:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Last month was an awful one for British retailers as they endured their worst July since records began. Total sales increased by 0.3% in July, compared with a rise of 1.6% in July last year, according to British Retail Consortium data compiled by the accountancy firm KPMG. The industry lobby group said the rise was the weakest since its records began in 1995. It blamed “the combination of slow real wage growth and Brexit [/perfectpullquote]

It might be the worst rise but it’s not the worst level therefore, is it?

The Independent:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Retail sales over past year weakest since records began in 1995, survey shows[/perfectpullquote]

Fewer pounds were spent in British shops than in 1995? I think not, eh?

Et tu FT?

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Department stores suffer in worst July retail sales on record[/perfectpullquote]

These things aren’t going to get any better until we fire all the arts graduates currently writing the newspapers and replace them with people at least numerate. Even grievance studies teaches how to count the oppression, doesn’t it?

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starfish
starfish
2 years ago

Statistical illiteracy is an essential feature of the media these days

Leo Savantt
Leo Savantt
2 years ago

Brexit derangement syndrome is obviously impeding the functions of the posterior parietal, ventrotemporal occipital and prefrontal cortices, causing sufferers to become insufferable.

Q46
Q46
2 years ago

‘For they’ve confused the rate of change – the acceleration perhaps – with the level – say, the speed.’ Lot of that about. Exactly what the liars deliberately do to tell you global warming is still happening when the acceleration stopped after 1996, and deceleration set in about a decade later – despite increased rate of CO2 emissions. (See: Global Mean Temperature Anomaly record) But you know, carbon tax will stop the acceleration which has already stopped and decelerated all on its own – a carbon tax however will not lower the level of warmth. So a carbon tax is… Read more »

david
david
2 years ago

It isn’t only these days. Remember the press deliberately misrepresenting what Ted Heath said about the rate of price increases?

Shadeburst
Shadeburst
2 years ago

Tim W can tell us that in commodity markets — ores, shipping containers, pork belly — value changes get analysed by their volume and price components. Not so easy when it comes to clothing, groceries and furniture. It is quite possible and even likely that a goodly part of the lower sales value is lower price per unit volume. Retailers dropping their prices in expectation of Brexit — not so much.

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