SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

April 22, 2009 10:48 ET

More Retailers Expect Better Sales in 2nd Quarter

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - April 22, 2009) - Michigan retailers' outlook rose for the 2nd Quarter, despite March sales that remained essentially flat, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

It was the fourth consecutive month that retailers' short-term sale predictions have risen. It was also the first time since last August that more retailers forecast increases than forecast decreases for the next three-month period.

"Retailers' short-term forecasts fell sharply last fall after the meltdown in the financial markets, hitting a low point in November," said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. "Since then, they have improved gradually, demonstrating greater confidence in the economy. There is still a long, long way to go, but we see this as a positive trend."

The Michigan Retail Index survey for March found that 31 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 55 percent recorded declines and 14 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 39.4, down slightly from 40.8 in February.

Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in positive activity, while values below 50 indicate a decrease.

Looking ahead, 39 percent of retailers said they expect higher sales during April - June over the same period last year, while 36 percent project a decrease and 25 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 47.8, up from 44.6 in February and the most positive outlook since 53.4 last August.

Apparel retailers appeared to post the strongest results during March.

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 2009 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at
www.retailers.com/news/retailindex.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         31 (32)       55 (54)       14 (14)    39.4 (40.8)  135 (132)
Inventory     14 (12)       51 (57)       35 (31)    30.0 (28.7)  134 (131)
Prices        29 (33)       16 (17)       55 (50)    56.7 (56.1)  135 (131)
Promotions    36 (35)       10 (11)       54 (54)    62.9 (63.9)  135 (130)
Hiring         8  (8)       24 (32)       68 (60)    42.6 (39.8)  132 (131)

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         39 (34)       36 (41)       25 (25)    47.8 (44.6)  136 (131)
Inventory     23 (19)       39 (40)       38 (41)    39.0 (35.3)  133 (128)
Prices        29 (35)        8  (6)       63 (59)    59.0 (63.0)  133 (130)
Promotions    45 (49)        8  (6)       47 (45)    65.9 (69.4)  135 (128)
Hiring         7  (8)       19 (22)       74 (70)    41.8 (41.4)  133 (130)

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         38 (41)       48 (35)       14 (24)
West          39 (43)       47 (36)       14 (21)
Central       35 (55)       55 (25)       10 (20)
East           0 (25)       87 (50)       13 (25)
Southeast     34 (33)       53 (39)       13 (28)

Question of the Month
Compared to a year ago, how difficult are you finding it to get credit or
loans for your business?

              Much Less      Less                 More       Much More
              Difficult    Difficult    Same    Difficult    Difficult
                0.9%          0.9%      64.0%     17.5%        16.7%

*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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