Michigan retailers expect good holiday sales

November 6, 2011
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Nearly nine of 10 Michigan retailers expect a holiday season as good or better than last year, with more than one in three projecting their sales will rise by more than 5 percent, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey conducted by Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

On average, retailers are forecasting a 6 percent gain for their businesses during the holiday season.

“Michigan’s retail industry is generally upbeat as it prepares for the holiday season,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan. “Last year snapped a string of poor holiday data, and most retailers fully expect additional gains this year.”

The survey showed that 54 percent expect to increase sales (35 percent of respondents by more than 5 percent, and 19 percent of respondents by 5 percent or less); 35 percent foresee no change from last year.

The International Council of Shopping Centers and National Retail Federation separately predict total U.S. retail sales will climb 2.8 percent or less for the holidays.

Michigan retailers’ projections came during a month of continued sales growth.

The Michigan Retail Index for September found that 46 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 36 percent recorded declines and 18 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 57.9, up from 55.9 in August and 53.6 in July.

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

Looking forward, 45 percent of retailers expect sales during October-December to increase over the same period last year, while 24 percent project a decrease and 31 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 61.4, up from 61.1 in July.

Nationally, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 1.1 percent in September.

William Strauss is senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

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