Retailers Outlook Holds Steady

August 25, 2004
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LANSING — On the 10th anniversary of the Michigan Retail Index, Michigan retailers are finding the marketplace anything but a piece of cake.

Hit by higher gasoline prices, unseasonable weather and inconsistent economic growth, retailers have been unable to maintain the positive momentum of the first four months of this year. Retailers’ short-term outlook, however, has remained steady and positive.

According to the index, which was launched in July 1994 by the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 42 percent of retailers increased sales in July over the same month last year, while 13 percent reported as-good sales and 45 percent recorded declines.

The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 44.6, down from 51.7 in June but up from 39.2 in May. For the first four months of the year, the index climbed from 49.9 in January to 53.1 in February, but dropped from 59.9 in March to 56.7 in April.

Looking ahead, 61 percent forecast better sales for August-October over the same period last year, while 23 percent project as-good sales and 16 percent expect declines. The results create a seasonably adjusted outlook index of 68.8, virtually unchanged from June and May.

“We’re seeing significant swings in monthly sales performance, no doubt caused by high gas prices, unseasonable weather and other factors. But retailers are maintaining their optimism as they look ahead to the fall season,” said Larry Meyer, MRA chairman and CEO.         

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