Despite a spring revival, retailers are leery of fall sales
LANSING — Michigan’s retail industry rang up its best sales performance in more than three years during June, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
The June index showed retailers’ year-over-year sales jumped 19 points to 66.7 on the 100-point scale — the highest since 68.1 in November 2010 — as Michigan continued its rebound from the Great Recession.
“We get a better picture of what’s going on by looking at this past spring as a whole, and that picture is strongly positive,” said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO.
“Coming out of the extremely tough winter, we finally saw an increase in sales in April, an unexpected drop in May and then a larger than anticipated increase in June. It makes more sense to view the entire second quarter as a rebound from the harsh winter.”
Retailers’ sales forecasts for the third quarter slipped nearly 10 points on the index, indicating possible concerns about the back-to-school and early fall periods.
The June survey of MRA members showed 53 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 23 percent recorded declines and 24 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 66.7, up from 47.7 in May. A year ago June, the index stood at 47.7.
The 100-point Michigan Retail 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, 58 percent of retailers expect sales during July-September to increase over the same period last year, while 18 percent project a decrease and 24 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 69.5, down from 79.3 in May. A year ago June, the 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.