Retailers Are Optimistic About 2004

    LANSING — Michigan retailers anticipate retail sales growth of more than 5 percent this year, according to the Michigan Retail Index released Feb. 25.

    The index, a monthly measure of retail activity in the state, is based on a monthly survey of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) members.

    According to the survey, Michigan retailers are projecting average sales increases of 5.4 percent, compared to a 0.7 percent year-to-year decline in retail sales in 2003.

    MRA Chairman and CEO Larry Meyer said Michigan’s projections were in line with national forecasts.

    Some 56 percent of retailers projected February, March and April sales would surpass sales for the same three-month period last year, while 26 percent projected sales would be just as good, and 18 percent said they anticipated a decline in sales from the year-ago period.

    Furniture and appliance retailers expressed the most optimism for the February-to-April period, with 82 percent expecting increased sales for the period.

    Retail jewelers had a highly optimistic outlook, as well: 76 percent projected increased sales between February and March.

    The index revealed that 39 percent of retailers experienced increased sales in January over the same month the year before, 17 percent reported no change and 44 percent recorded decreased sales.

    The MRA referred to the results as “the best January outlook since 1999.”

    The MRA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago jointly established the index in July 1994.

    The association releases an updated index on the fourth Wednesday of each month.           

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