SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

January 21, 2015 15:34 ET

Michigan Retailers Association: Strong December Lifts Michigan Holiday Season

LANSING, MI--(Marketwired - Jan 21, 2015) - Most Michigan retailers reported better holiday sales, thanks to a strong December, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The average year-to-year change was a 1.1 percent increase for the season, slightly below retailers' average pre-season prediction of +1.6 percent.

For all of 2014, the average change from the year before was a 1.0 percent increase.

"December was the best month since July, helped by sharply lower gasoline prices, lower unemployment and moderate weather," said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. "That boost lifted holiday sales and results for all of 2014, although not as much as expected."

About a third (32 percent) of retailers reported holiday sales increases above 5 percent. Another 20 percent rang up smaller increases, and 23 percent reported flat sales. A quarter (25 percent) of retailers experienced declines.

The December monthly survey of MRA members showed 54 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 29 percent recorded declines and 17 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 66.5, up sharply from 48.1 in November. A year ago December the Index stood at 50.5.

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, 49 percent of retailers expect sales during January-March to increase over the same period last year, while 22 percent project a decrease and 29 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 68, up from 64.1 in November. A year ago December the 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
December 2014 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at http://www.retailers.com/mra/news/michigan-retail-index.html

December 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 November results)

    % Increased   % Decreased   % No Change   Index*   Responses
Sales   54 (40)   29 (45)   17 (15)   66.5 (48.1)   79 (74)
Inventory   25 (32)   42 (23)   33 (45)   44.4 (52.4)   80 (74)
Prices   6 (4)   10 (15)   84 (81)   49.6 (45.7)   80 (74)
Promotions   36 (46)   10 (3)   54 (51)   61.3 (69.7)   80 (73)
Hiring   19 (10)   13 (8)   68 (82)   55.9 (53.0)   79 (74)

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 November results) 

    % Increased   % Decreased   % No Change   Index*   Responses
Sales   49 (43)   22 (27)   29 (30)   68.0 (64.1)   80 (73)
Inventory   26 (21)   28 (33)   46 (46)   56.9 (51.2)   80 (72)
Prices   25 (20)   10 (11)   65 (69)   56.7 (55.9)   79 (74)
Promotions   36 (34)   8 (7)   56 (59)   66.6 (69.2)   78 (73)
Hiring   11 (10)   13 (17)   76 (73)   50.9 (50.4)   79 (72)

December 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   60 (33)   20 (40)   20 (27)        
West   50 (24)   19 (29)   31 (47)        
Central   78 (56)   22 (11)   0 (33)        
East   56 (33)   33 (33)   11 (34)        
Southeast   45 (74)   44 (7)   11 (19)        

Question of the Month
How much did your 2014 holiday sales increase or decrease over last year?

Increase > 5%   Increase 0-5%   No Change   Decrease 0-5%   Decrease > 5%   Average
32%   20%   23%   10%   15%   1.1%

How much did your total 2014 sales increase or decrease over last year?

Increase > 5%   Increase 0-5%   No Change   Decrease 0-5%   Decrease > 5%   Average
29%   28%   15%   13%   16%   1.0%

*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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