Michigan retailers bullish on holidays

October 30, 2010
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Most Michigan retailers — 58 percent — expect better sales this holiday season, and their overall projections are the best since 2004.

On average, retailers project a 6 percent gain in sales compared to last year, according to the Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. A closer look shows that 28 percent expect to increase sales by more than 5 percent, with 30 percent increasing sales by 5 percent or less.

Only 10 percent project a decrease, with 32 percent expecting no change from last year. Retailers are the most optimistic in six years about the holidays.

Sales have increased two months in a row, Michigan’s unemployment rate continues to inch downward, and there appears to be more optimism and expectation of change for the better throughout the state.

U.S. holiday sales projections include 2.3 percent by the National Retail Federation and upwards of 3.5 percent by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The Michigan Retail Index survey for September found that 41 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 36 percent recorded declines and 23 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 56.7, up from 46.9 in August. A year ago September, the sales performance index stood at 42.5.

Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in overall retail activity.

Looking ahead, 43 percent of retailers expect sales during the 4th quarter to improve over the same period last year, while 28 percent project a decrease and 29 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 56.3, up from 51.9 in August. A year ago September, the sales outlook index stood at 49.2.

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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