SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

March 18, 2015 15:36 ET

Michigan Retailers Association Reports February Cold Hurts Michigan Retail Sales

LANSING, MI--(Marketwired - Mar 18, 2015) - Michigan retailers' sales fell along with the temperatures during February, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The severe cold weather also pushed up retailers' sales forecasts for spring.

"Last month was one of the coldest Februarys on record in Michigan and the result was a significant decrease in sales," said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. "Our monthly performance index plummeted more than 18 points as the thermometer fell below zero repeatedly."

"The good news," he added, "is that retailers expect a strong spring as consumers shake off another harsh winter."

The February monthly survey of MRA members showed 31 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 52 percent recorded declines and 17 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 41.7, down from 60.0 in January and 66.5 in December. A year ago February the performance index stood at 49.0.

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, 75 percent of retailers expect sales during March-May to increase over the same period last year, while 9 percent project a decrease and 16 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 78.5, up from 76.2 in January and 68.0 in December. A year ago February the outlook index stood at 61.7.

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 2015 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at http://www.retailers.com/mra/news/michigan-retail-index.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   31 (49 )   52 (33 )   17 (18 )   41.7 (60.0 )   60 (85 )
Inventory   22 (16 )   26 (38 )   52 (46 )   52.2 (45.5 )   60 (84 )
Prices   10 (7 )   15 (10 )   75 (83 )   46.3 (51.8 )   60 (84 )
Promotions   29 (22 )   4 (8 )   67 (70 )   60.8 (60.6 )   58 (83 )
Hiring   9 (11 )   3 (13 )   88 (76 )   52.9 (50.1 )   59 (83 )
                               

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   75 (67 )   9 (6 )   16 (27 )   78.5 (76.2 )   57 (83 )
Inventory   55 (42 )   17 (19 )   28 (39 )   62.4 (60.4 )   58 (84 )
Prices   26 (29 )   5 (7 )   69 (64 )   59.0 (61.5 )   58 (85 )
Promotions   61 (48 )   0 (2 )   39 (50 )   77.3 (72.6 )   57 (85 )
Hiring   24 (22 )   2 (8 )   74 (70 )   59.1 (55.9 )   59 (84 )
                               

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   25 (75 )   33 (25 )   42 (0 )
West   29 (62 )   50 (15 )   21 (23 )
Central   56 (100 )   22 (0 )   22 (0 )
East   33 (67 )   67 (0 )   0 (33 )
Southeast   29 (74 )   71 (0 )   0 (26 )
                   

Question of the Month
What impact did the West Coast longshoremen labor dispute have on your inventory levels?

         
Significant Impact   Modest Impact   No Impact
3%   22%   75%
         

*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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