Despite significant slide, fall retail forecasts remain strong


Michigan retailers’ sales forecasts remain strong for fall despite a drop in August sales, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The retail industry’s overall sales performance fell in August to its lowest level in six months, but retailers’ three-month forecasts remain solidly positive.

“The consensus is that the late dates for Labor Day and the reopening of schools ended up pushing some normal August spending into September,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

“Retailers’ sales forecasts remain positive, and further declines in gasoline prices should boost retail sales,” he said.

The August survey of MRA members showed 37 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 42 percent recorded declines and 21 percent reported no change.

The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 43.9, down from 65.3 in July. A year ago in August the performance index stood at 46.

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.

Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Looking forward, 59 percent of retailers expect sales during the September to November period to increase over the same period last year, while 22 percent project a decrease and 19 percent anticipate no change.

That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 68.0, down slightly from 69.7 in July. A year ago in August the outlook index stood at 70.6.

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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