SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

November 28, 2007 09:08 ET

Earlier Start for Holiday Promotions

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - November 28, 2007) - If you think holiday sales promotions began earlier this year, you're right. Nearly 30 percent of Michigan retailers surveyed by the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said they pushed up their timetable from last year.

Asked when they planned to start their promotions -- ranging from decorations to holiday-focused discounts -- 28 percent said earlier than last year. Only 4 percent said later and 68 percent said same as before.

"The trend over the last several years has been for an earlier start to holiday promotions, and this year was no exception. This represents the importance of the season and the intense competition for those early shopping dollars," said Larry Meyer, MRA chairman and CEO.

The industry's overall sales performance improved in October after a dip in September, according to MRA's and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Michigan Retail Index.

The Index showed that 44 percent increased sales over the same month last year, while 39 percent recorded declines and 16 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 52.0, up from 46.5 in September.

Forty-eight percent believe their sales will increase for November-January over the same period last year, while 27 percent say sales will decline and 24 percent expect no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted outlook index of 65.0, up from 62.2 in September.

Michigan retailers went into the holiday season predicting, on average, a 2.2 percent increase in sales over last year's holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation forecasts a 4 percent increase across the U.S.

The Michigan Retailers Association is the unified voice of retailing in Michigan and the nation's largest state trade association of general merchandise retailers.

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

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

October 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 September results)

           % Increased  % Decreased  % No Change  Index*       Responses
Sales      44 (35)      39 (47)      16 (16)      52.0 (46.5)  133   (99)
Inventory  37 (32)      23 (33)      34 (30)      51.2 (44.6)  127   (96)
Prices     43 (28)       8 (10)      43 (53)      66.6 (55.0)  127   (92)
Promotions 38 (29)       7  (9)      49 (54)      60.1 (55.8)  127   (93)
Hiring     12 (11)       8 (16)      70 (66)      46.9 (45.0)  121   (94)

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 September results)

           % Increased  % Decreased  % No Change  Index*       Responses
Sales      48 (52)      27 (27)      24 (17)      65.0 (62.2)  133   (97)
Inventory  25 (31)      33 (31)      36 (31)      51.0 (51.8)  127   (94)
Prices     42 (29)       6  (8)      46 (53)      64.4 (56.9)  126   (91)
Promotions 45 (41)      10  (9)      41 (41)      67.1 (59.7)  129   (92)
Hiring     10 (10)      10 (16)      72 (63)      46.6 (41.6)  124   (90)

October 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      31 (34)      41 (38)      24 (24)
West       50 (46)      27 (27)      23 (27)
Central    63 (54)      33 (29)       4 (17)
East       50 (30)      40 (10)      10 (60)
Southeast  38 (55)      48 (24)      14 (21)

Question of the Month

Relative to last year, when are you planning to start your holiday promotions?

Earlier 28.4%          Later 3.7%          Same 67.9%

*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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