Area Economy

Michigan retailers expect summer sales gains

June 26, 2015
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LANSING — Michigan retailers’ summer sales forecasts remain strong despite a dip in sales in May, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Nearly two-thirds of retailers in the state expect better year-over-year sales for June through August, a level of optimism only slightly less than in the previous four months.

“Retailers are looking beyond the monthly ups and downs and finding confidence in the improving economy, especially Michigan’s lower unemployment rate,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

“The outlook component of the Index has been strong all year, and most retailers expect a good summer.”

During May, actual sales performance slipped 10 points, pushing the sales component of the monthly Index back into a familiar “roller coaster” pattern from last year and earlier this year.

Overall, Michigan’s numbers appeared weaker than national retail sales figures.

The May survey of MRA members showed 40 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 36 percent recorded declines and 24 percent reported no change.

The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 47.4, down from 57.6 in April. A year ago May the performance index stood at 47.7.

The 100-point index 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, 64 percent of retailers expect sales during June-August to increase over the same period last year, while 10 percent project a decrease and 26 percent no change.

That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 73, down from 74.7 in April. A year ago May the outlook index stood at 79.3.

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

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