Michigan Retailers See Sales Drop in August over July

Retailers report comparative back-to-school sales versus last year, but lower overall sales

Michigan Retailers Association today reports that August 2022 sales decreased over July 2022.

The August Retail Index survey came in at 49.3, a decrease from July’s 54.3. Forty-three percent (43%) of Michigan retailers reported a sales increase over July; Thirty percent (30%) noted a decrease, and 27% reported no change.

The 100-point Index provides a snapshot of the state’s overall retail industry. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity, the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

“Last year the August Retail Index came in at 61.2. When we compare year-over-year, retailers faced a difficult and slow back-to-school season,” said William J. Hallan, President and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association. “Our retail members are the canary in the coal mine, their sales show us the state of the economy in a real, tangible way. Their sales aren’t an academic exercise, they are the real livelihoods of our friends, family and neighbors.”

The seasonally adjusted performance Index is conducted by Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch.

3-Month Outlook Remains Positive
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of retailers predict their sales will continue to rise through November, but 28% said they expect their sales to decline. Thirteen percent (13%) anticipate no change. That results in a 63.2 Index rating, an increase over last month’s prediction Index rating of 58.5, yet still a positive indication for high sales activity over the next three months.

“We’re heading into the most important time for retailers – Q4. Many of which plan their whole year on and depend on doing well,” said Hallan. “A negative end to the final quarter can mean a business survives, or doesn’t.”

“Online, out-of-state retailers are ramping up their holiday promotions already. We ask consumers to redirect the money they’re sending out of state, to an in-state store. Buying nearby fuels our local economy and jobs in our communities,” said Hallan.

Back-to-School and Holiday Sales
According to the survey, 4% of Michigan Retailers report their back-to-school sales increased significantly, while 23% say they increased moderately, 15% increased slightly, and 58% did not see a difference from 2021.

Most retailers in Michigan – 60% – reported they’ll start running holiday promotions at the same time as 2021. Contrastingly, 22% reported they won’t be running holiday promotions this year, citing the current cost pressures they’re facing.

Michigan’s unemployment rate in August preliminarily came in at 4.1%, a notch below July’s 4.2%. In August 2021, Michigan’s unemployment rate was 6.0%.

The national unemployment rate rose to 3.7% compared to 3.5% in July. Last year, the national unemployment rate was 5.2%.