Your online shopping habit is keeping trucks rolling!

FreightWaves Customer SuccessDaily Tips

Did you know? You can measure the trends in Retail Sales to help predict shifts in the freight markets.

What is it?

Retail Sales (RESL) – The U.S. Census Bureau releases a monthly estimate that tracks purchases of durable and non-durable goods at the consumer level. This helps measure the demand for finished goods across a variety of categories such as department stores, furniture stores, electronics and more. 

(Retail sales, like many other SONAR indices, can be broken into a year-over-year to show growth trends and seasonality. Use RESLG to use year-over-year breakouts.)


Retail Sales Year-over-year

The chart above shows the monthly Retail Sales from the U.S. Census Bureau

Who needs it?

Analysts can use this data to gauge the path of the economy and health of the U.S. consumer.

Carriers can use retail sales data by targeting consumer sub-segments that are in a growth pattern.

Brokers can use this to target shippers or carriers involved in particular sectors that are experiencing exponential growth and avoid segments that are in decline and offering fewer opportunities. 

Shippers can use this data to measure their performance in certain markets compared to actual results.

What can I do with it?

The retail sales can be broken out into categories to get a more granular understanding performance in various retail sectors. This breakout allows for better comparisons for equipment types. Example:.Retail sales for food and beverages (RESLG.FBEV) compared to reefer capacity (ROTRI.USA).

Retail Sales can be broken out into the following categories:

(Use RESLG. for year-over-year breakouts)

  • RESL.USA – Total U.S. Retail Sales 
  • RESL.BLDG – Retail sales building materials, garden equipment and supply
  • RESL.CCAS – Retail sales clothing and clothing accessories stores
  • RESL.DEPT – Retail sales department stores
  • RESL.ELEC – Retail sales electrical equipment and appliances
  • RESL.FBEV – Retail sales food and beverage
  • RESL.FSDP – Retail sales food service and drinking places
  • RESL.GASS – Retail sales gas stations
  • RESL.HPCS – Retail sales health and personal care stores
  • RESL.MISC – Retail sales miscellaneous
  • RESL.MOTOR – Retail sales motor vehicle and parts 
  • RESL.MRCH – Retail sales merchandise
  • RESL.NSTR – Retail sales nonstore retailers
  • RESL.ONLN – Retail sales nonstore retailers
  • RESL.SGHS – Retail sales sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores
  • RESL.SOFA – Retail sales furniture and related products

Show me how!

1) Click the large Plus sign in the top right corner of a custom page.


2) Select the chart option from the drop-down menu.


3) Type RESLG.FBEV into the search “Enter Symbol” field.


4) Select the “+ Compare” button under the main symbol title and enter ROTRI.USA into the search field.


5) Select the Display drop-down menu and select dual under Y Axis Style for easier comparison between the two indexes.


Pro Tip: Turn on large fonts in the display settings under Chart Preferences for viewing ease.

Not a SONAR customer but want to learn more about SONAR? Visit the SONAR website to learn more. Or click the button to the right to get a demo.

Get a Demo