Michigan Retailers Optimistic About Sales

May 6, 2002
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LANSING — State retailers are expecting sales to rise for the second quarter, even after a disappointing Easter selling season.

According to the Michigan Retail Index, 75 percent of those surveyed projected higher sales for April, May and June of this year than they had last year. That three-quarters mark represents the highest level of optimism regarding retail sales across the state since May 2000, when slightly more than 76 percent predicted a sales gain.

“Retailers’ outlooks continue to rise even though it remains tough for many stores to generate momentum from one or two months’ gains,” said Larry Meyer, chairman and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA).

“The Easter holiday was below expectations and pushed down March sales, a sign that consumers remain cautious even as overall conditions improve,” he added.

Only 41 percent of state retailers had better sales in March over last year, while 47 percent said sales declined over the same period.

In Grand Rapids, 37 percent of retailers reported higher sales in March, while 52 percent had a decline for the month from the previous year. Seventy percent of city storeowners said they expect sales to increase for the second quarter, while 15 percent said they expect a decrease.

General merchandise, furniture and appliances, and electronic equipment were the biggest sellers across the state in March, as at least half of these retailers reported gains.

The Michigan Retail Index is a monthly survey of MRA members, a joint project of the MRA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The MRA has more than 5,000 members who operate over 12,000 stores in Michigan.           

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