Michigan Retailers Report Low January Sales, Positive Future Outlook

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Michigan Retailers Association today reports that January 2024 sales performed moderately, landing at 48.0 on the 100-point Retail Index. The January 2023 Retail Index came in at 53.8, indicating a 10.8 percent decrease year-over-year.

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

December 2023 registered 47.1 on the Index, making January’s 48 points, a technical increase with the seasonal adjustment.

Thirty percent (30%) noted an increase over the December sales, sixty-two percent (62%) of Michigan retailers surveyed reported a sales decrease and 8% reported no change.

“The Retail Index numbers once again point to the ebb and flow of the industry – up one month, and down another,” said William J. Hallan, President and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association. “The roller coaster ride that Michigan retailers experienced was a significant challenge brought on by outside forces like economic inflation and employment uncertainty. A majority of our retailers are predicting a sales increase over the next 90 days, a marker we can only hit if Michiganians choose to Buy Nearby.”

Holiday Returns

As part of the survey, retailers were asked about their Holiday 2023 returns. Eighty-eight percent responded that Holiday 2023 returns were on par with Holiday 2022 returns.

Three-Month Optimism Rises

When asked to predict their 3-month sales outlook, sixty-three percent (63%) of retailers predicted their sales will continue to rise through April, and 20% said they expect their sales to decline. Seventeen percent (17%) anticipate no change. That results in a 63.6 Index rating, an increase from last month’s prediction Index rating of 54.7, and a slight year-over-year drop from 64.2 in 2023.

“With spring on the horizon, Michigan’s retailers are ready to help their friends and neighbors brighten their gardens, refresh their wardrobes, and find a new pair of shoes.”

Unemployment Rates

The national unemployment rate remained at 3.7% over December. Last year, the national unemployment rate was 3.4%. The unemployment rate for Michigan has not been announced for January. Last year, the rate came in at 4.3%.