Michigan retailers' holiday forecasts mixed

November 2, 2009
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Slightly more Michigan retailers expect sales increases than declines this holiday season, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Overall, however, the average of their sales projections points to a decrease of 1 percent for the season, in line with national projections that range from -3.5 percent to +1 percent.

There’s more optimism this year based on better sales during spring and summer, which is encouraging. But caution remains the word of the day.

While we don’t foresee any major sales gains for the retail industry until the state’s employment figures begin to show significant improvement, we do believe this will be a better season for many retailers.

The Michigan Retail Index survey for September found that 35 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 49 percent recorded declines and 16 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 42.5, down from 46.6 in August and halting a string of four consecutive monthly increases.

Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in positive activity, while values below 50 indicate a decrease.

Looking ahead, 38 percent of retailers said they expect higher sales during the fourth quarter holiday shopping season, while 36 percent project a decrease and 26 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 49.2, down from 53.5 in August.

Many categories of retailers, including electronics retailers, furniture and appliance stores, jewelers and general merchandise retailers expect a better holiday season.

James P. Hallon is president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association.

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