Nov 27 - Retail sales rise leading into holiday season
LANSING – More Michigan retailers increased sales during October, setting the stage for an improved holiday shopping season that “officially” begins Thursday and Friday.
October’s Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, registered the best retail industry sales since July.
“The retail industry’s better performance during October points to increased sales during the holiday shopping period,” said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO.
“The gains this autumn, while small, show consumers are still very much engaged. With gasoline prices at a relatively low level and the federal government open again, retailers should be able to meet their projections for modest year-over-year increases in sales.”
MRA members’ earlier holiday forecasts showed cautious optimism, averaging a 1.3 percent gain over last year. The survey took place during the federal government shutdown, the showdown over the debt ceiling and the flawed rollout of the government’s health reform website – all of which tempered their forecasts.
The October Michigan Retail Index found that 45 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 39 percent recorded declines and 16 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 54.8 up from 52.8 in September.
The Index gauges the performance of the state’s overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by MRA and the Federal Reserve. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.
Looking forward, 48 percent of retailers expect sales during November–January to increase over the same period last year, while 21 percent project a decrease and 31 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 64.3, down from 76.3 in September.
At the national level, October retail sales excluding autos, gasoline and building materials rose 0.2 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Note: William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, can be reached at 312.322.8151.