Michigan retailers split on how year is shaping up

August 2, 2010
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How is 2010 shaping up for Michigan retailers a little more than halfway through the year? Is it better, worse or about the same as they expected?

Retailers are almost evenly split on their assessments, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Some 34 percent say it’s going better than projected, 32 percent say it’s on target and 34 percent say it’s worse.

This year has held some surprises for two-thirds of retailers. Half of that group is pleasantly surprised and half disappointed.

Overall, however, sales have been improving over last year, with the sharpest increases occurring in late winter and early spring.

June retail sales improved from May, but failed to get back to the levels of February, March and April, according to the index.

Nationally, analysts described U.S. June retail sales as “choppy” and “mixed” and characterized consumers as sticking to their “thrifty ways” after boosting spending earlier. The Michigan Retail Index survey for June found that 39 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 41 percent recorded declines and 20 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 46.6, up from 42.4 in May. A year ago June, the sales performance index stood at 41.2.

Index values below 50 generally indicate a decrease in overall retail activity. Looking ahead, 46 percent of retailers expect sales during the third quarter to improve over the same period last year, while 22 percent project a decrease and 32 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 60.7, down from 62.3 in May. A year ago June, the sales outlook index stood at 48.7.
James P. Hallan is president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association, the nation’s largest state trade association of general merchandise retailers.

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