SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

April 29, 2010 09:06 ET

Positive Performance for Michigan Retailers

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - April 29, 2010) -  Michigan retailers' sales and forecasts remained comparatively strong in March, far ahead of last winter's weak numbers but off from February, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The sales Index topped 50 (on a scale of 0-100) for the second month in a row -- the first time that's happened since July and August of 2007 -- indicating continued positive activity throughout the retail industry.

"Consumers continued buying with new energy and optimism," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan. "There was some fall off from February as the unemployment rate remained at 14.1 percent, but we continue to see significant progress from a year ago."

The Michigan Retail Index survey for March found that 48 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 33 percent recorded declines and 19 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 55.4, down from 56.7 in February. A year ago, the index was 39.4 in March.

Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in positive activity, while values below 50 indicate a decrease.

Looking ahead, 57 percent of retailers expect sales during April-June to improve over the same period last year, while 20 percent project a decrease and 23 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 62.4, down from 70.7 in February. A year ago, the index was 47.8 in March.

More retailers reported increased sales than reported decreases in every region of the state except Southeast Michigan.

General merchandise and gift stores led the other trade lines.

Note: William Strauss, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, can be reached at 312.322.8151.

Michigan Retail Index
March 2010 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at www.retailers.com/news/retailindex.html

March Performance               
Retailers reporting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to the same month a year ago               
(numbers in parentheses indicate February results)   

  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index* Responses
Sales 48 (46) 33 (39) 19 (15) 55.4 (56.7) 140 (129)
Inventory 27 (26) 30 (34) 43 (40) 47.9 (53.3) 137 (129)
Prices 19 (19) 11 (9) 70 (72) 54.7 (54.6) 139 (129)
Promotions 38 (39) 6 (4) 56 (57) 65.7 (70.3) 139 (129)
Hiring 9 (10) 10 (13) 81 (77) 48.8 (51.2) 139 (129)

Outlook for Next 3 Months               
Retailers expecting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to the same period a year ago                
(numbers in parentheses indicate February results)        

  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index* Responses
Sales 57 (61) 20 (16) 23 (23) 62.4 (70.7) 140 (129)
Inventory 33 (36) 16 (19) 51 (45) 54.6 (53.4) 138 (129)
Prices 24 (26) 9 (8) 67 (66) 57.3 (57.7) 138 (128)
Promotions 45 (49) 3 (6) 52 (45) 68.9(69.0) 138 (129)
Hiring 16 (10) 10 (13) 74 (77) 50.6 (47.0) 132 (128)

March Sales Performance & Outlook for Next 3 Months, by Region          
(the first number indicates sales performance for the month; the number in parentheses indicates outlook for the next three months.)         

  % Increased % Decreased % No Change
North 39 (61) 32 (16) 29 (23)
West 53 (72) 31 (16) 16 (12)
Central 58 (62) 25 (21) 17 (17)
East 50 (50) 25 (25) 25 (25)
Southeast 43 (46) 46 (27) 11 (27)

Question of the Month
How much of an impact do you expect federal health care reform to have on your business this year?

Very Negative Negative No Impact Positive Very Positive
15% 33% 45% 5% 2%

*Seasonally adjusted diffusion index. A diffusion index, which is the sum of the percent of respondents indicating increase and half the percent indicating no change, is calculated and then seasonally adjusted using the U.S. Census Bureau's X-11 Seasonal Adjustment procedure. Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in activity, while values below 50 indicate a decrease.

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