Area Economy

State retailers post weakest monthly performance of the year

September 2, 2016
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Michigan retailers were not immune from a national slowdown in sales during July, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Michigan retailers posted their weakest monthly performance of the year, following five consecutive months of positive numbers, including strong gains in the spring.

“We expect the pause will be short,” MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan said. “Strong employment, solid consumer confidence and low gasoline prices are a few of the factors behind retailers’ forecasts for increased sales going forward.”

Retail sales were flat across the U.S. during July, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The July Michigan Retail Index survey found 46 percent of Michigan retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 36 percent recorded declines and 18 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 45.7, down from 53.9 in June. A year ago in July, the performance index stood at 65.3.

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 Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Looking forward, 53 percent of retailers expect sales during August-October to increase over the same period last year, while 20 percent project a decrease and 27 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 65.6, down from 71.6 in June. A year ago in July, the outlook index stood at 69.7.

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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