SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

April 15, 2015 15:48 ET

Michigan Retail Sales Bounce Back

LANSING, MI--(Marketwired - April 15, 2015) - Michigan retailers' sales rose sharply in March, rebounding from their steep drop in February, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The monthly sales index climbed more than 25 points to 66.8 in March. It had fallen more than 18 points from January to February as Michigan suffered through one of its coldest Februarys on record.

"Better weather teamed up with continued 'low' gasoline prices and lower unemployment to help boost retail sales," said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. "Retailers are looking forward to a strong spring."

The March monthly survey of MRA members showed 55 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 25 percent recorded declines and 20 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 66.8, up from 41.7 in February and the highest level since last July. A year ago March the performance index stood at 44.8.

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, 68 percent of retailers expect sales during April-June to increase over the same period last year, while 9 percent project a decrease and 23 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 76.9, down from 78.5 in February and up from 76.2 in January. A year ago March the outlook index stood at 63.3.

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 2015 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at http://www.retailers.com/mra/news/michigan-retail-index.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 55 (31) 25 (52) 20 (17) 66.8 (41.7) 88 (60)
Inventory 32 (22) 21 (26) 47 (52) 57.4 (52.2) 87 (60)
Prices 14 (10) 14 (15) 72 (75) 49.1 (46.3) 87 (60)
Promotions 30 (29) 2 ( 4) 68 (67) 66.7 (60.8) 86 (58)
Hiring 12 ( 9) 14 ( 3) 74 (88) 49.1 (52.9) 84 (59)
           

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 68 (75) 9 ( 9) 23 (16) 76.9 (78.5) 87 (57)
Inventory 50 (55) 17 (17) 33 (28) 60.4 (62.4) 87 (58)
Prices 23 (26) 4 ( 5) 73 (69) 60.0 (59.0) 88 (58)
Promotions 45 (61) 3 ( 0) 52 (39) 69.1 (77.3) 89 (57)
Hiring 35 (24) 3 ( 2) 62 (74) 63.1 (59.1) 87 (59)
           

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 59 (78) 18 (11) 23 (11)
West 46 (68) 21 ( 9) 33 (23)
Central 75 (63) 12 (12) 13 (25)
East 50 (50) 50 (25) 0 (25)
Southeast 50 (60) 33 ( 7) 17 (33)
       

Question of the Month
How difficult is it to find employees with the right skills or the ability to learn the necessary skills?

         
Very Difficult Moderately Difficult Neither Difficult Nor Easy Moderately Easy Very Easy
32% 36% 27% 5% 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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