Area Economy

Michigan retailers project growth

March 8, 2013
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LANSING — Four out of five Michigan retailers expect to increase sales this year, most by mid-single digits, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Coming off a positive January in which sales rebounded from a drop in December, 38 percent said they expect to increase sales by more than 5 percent this year, 45 percent put sales growth at 5 percent or less, 9 percent anticipate flat results and 8 percent foresee a decline in sales.

“January sales were more in line with what we saw all last year, confirming that December was not the start of a trend,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan. “Despite the many challenges still out there, retailers are optimistic about their sales going forward.”

The January Michigan Retail Index found that 43 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 35 percent recorded declines and 22 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 57.9, up from 46.6 in December. A year ago January, it was 63.8.

The MRI gauges the performance of the state’s overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by MRA and the Federal Reserve. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Looking forward, 55 percent of retailers expect sales during February-April to increase over the same period last year, while 5 percent project a decrease and 40 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 74.7, up from 63.7 in December. A year ago January, it stood at 78.

William Strauss is senior economist and economic adviser with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He can be reached at (312) 322-8151.

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