SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

November 23, 2011 11:59 ET

Michigan Retailers Association: 'They're Off and... Shopping'

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - Nov 23, 2011) - The "traditional" holiday shopping period begins Friday, but shoppers and retailers are already out of the starting gates in what's expected to be a good season. The Michigan Retail Index edged up in October to its highest level of the year at 58.3.

The Index gauges the performance of the state's overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

"The numbers suggest that consumers have already started their holiday shopping and could be on their way to meeting retailers' and analysts' expectations," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

"There are a number of positives out there, including declining or stable gasoline prices, an improving unemployment rate and resilient consumer spending leading into the final two months of the year. Retailers are optimistic."

In September's survey, nearly nine of 10 Michigan retailers said they expect a holiday season as good or better than last year, with 54 percent forecasting increased sales. On average, their forecast was for a 6 percent gain for their businesses during the holiday season.

The Michigan Retail Index for October found that 45 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 33 percent recorded declines and 22 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 58.3, up from 57.9 in September, 55.9 in August and 53.6 in July.

Looking forward, 49 percent of retailers expect sales during November-January to increase over the same period last year, while 19 percent project a decrease and 32 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 64.4, up from 61.4 in September.

Nationally, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 0.5 percent in October, 0.7 percent excluding autos and gasoline.

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
October 2011 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at http://www.retailers.com/mra/news/michigan-retail-index.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 45 (46) 33 (36) 22 (18) 58.3 (57.9) 108 (120)
Inventory 28 (31) 24 (26) 48 (43) 46.6 (52.4) 107 (117)
Prices 31 (33) 7 (3) 62 (64) 61.0 (65.1) 107 (117)
Promotions 38 (29) 9 (3) 53 (68) 63.2 (66.1) 107 (117)
Hiring 15 (12) 12 (7) 73 (81) 51.1 (52.8) 104 (117)

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 49 (45) 19 (24) 32 (31) 64.4 (61.4) 108 (120)
Inventory 26 (27) 28 (26) 46 (47) 51.3 (52.2) 107 (117)
Prices 31 (33) 9 (4) 60 (63) 61.9 (65.4) 106 (116)
Promotions 40 (33) 5 (2) 55 (65) 66.2 (64.8) 105 (116)
Hiring 7 (11) 9 (4) 84 (85) 48.6 (52.0) 107 (116)

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 62 (24) 29 (43) 9 (33)
West 42 (29) 37 (25) 21 (46)
Central 41 (82) 18 (0) 41 (18)
East 60 (20) 0 (20) 40 (60)
Southeast 47 (71) 38 (9) 15 (20)

Question of the Month
Compared to last year, when did you start (or plan to start) your holiday promotions?
Much earlier 4%; Earlier 12%; Same 82%; Later 1%; Much Later 1%

*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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