SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

March 24, 2010 16:54 ET

Sales Surge for Michigan Retailers

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - March 24, 2010) -  -- Michigan retailers' sales and forecasts rose in February, surging past last winter's weak numbers, 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 first time since August 2007, indicating positive activity throughout the retail industry. Also snapped was a 27-month string in which the number of retailers reporting year-over-year decreases surpassed those reporting increases.

Similarly, retailers' level of optimism, as reflected in their three-month sales projections, increased to its highest level since February 2006.

"These numbers are good news for the retail industry and the overall economy," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan. "They are even more encouraging because sales growth was spread across the industry, from furniture stores to gift, jewelry and apparel retailers."

"Looking forward, we expect the positive trend to continue," Hallan said. "Retailers posted some of their weakest numbers of the recession last March, April and May."

The Michigan Retail Index survey for February found that 46 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 39 percent recorded declines and 15 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 56.7, up from 49.9 in January. A year ago, the index was 40.8 in February.

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

Looking ahead, 61 percent of retailers expect sales during March - May to improve over the same period last year, while 16 percent project a decrease and 23 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 70.7, up from 61.8 in January. A year ago the index was 44.6 in February.

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

February 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 January results)
  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index* Responses
Sales 46 (42) 39 (47) 15 (11) 56.7 (49.9) 129 (135)
Inventory 26 (14) 34 (47) 40 (39) 53.3 (39.2) 129 (135)
Prices 19 (22) 9 (10) 72 (68) 54.6 (56.2) 129 (134)
Promotions 39 (32) 4 (10) 57 (58) 70.3 (64.0) 129 (135)
Hiring 10 (9) 13 (19) 77 (72) 51.2 (50.4) 129 (135)
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 January results)      
  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index* Responses
Sales 61 (49) 16 (29) 23 (22) 70.7 (61.8) 129 (135)
Inventory 36 (28) 19 (25) 45 (47) 53.4 (53.2) 129 (135)
Prices 26 (21) 8 (5) 66 (74) 57.7 (59.9) 128 (135)
Promotions 49 (38) 6 (6) 45 (56) 69.0(67.5) 129 (135)
Hiring 10 (10) 13 (11) 77 (79) 47.0 (51.6) 128 (133)
February 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 48 (60) 36 (20) 16 (20)
West 46 (62) 31 (11) 23 (27)
Central 38 (57) 43 (14) 19 (29)
East 31 (62) 46 (15) 23 (23)
Southeast 50 (60) 42 (17) 8 (23)
Question of the Month
How much of an impact do you expect the continuing Federal Stimulus Package to have on your business this year?
         
Very Negative Negative No Impact Positive Very Positive
6% 8% 72% 14% 0%

*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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