SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

October 21, 2015 13:38 ET

Retailers Strengthen Sales Forecasts for 4th Quarter

LANSING, MI--(Marketwired - October 21, 2015) - Michigan retailers' sales forecasts have strengthened for the final three months of the year, following a rebound in sales during September, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

September sales bounced back into positive territory after a drop in August. Solid three-month sales forecasts grew stronger following September's results.

"We expected the slip in August sales was due to the late Labor Day holiday and would be temporary -- and it was. The higher employment levels and lower gasoline prices we're experiencing should boost retail sales during the final three months of the year," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

The September survey of MRA members showed 41 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 40 percent recorded declines and 19 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 51.1, up from 43.9 in August. A year ago September the performance index stood at 62.1.

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 Bank of Chicago's Detroit branch. 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 October-December to increase over the same period last year, while 15 percent project a decrease and 17 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 75.4, up from 68.0 in August. A year ago September the outlook index stood at 73.6.

Retailers in the northern and central regions of the state fared best during September.

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
September 2015 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at http://www.retailers.com/mra/news/michigan-retail-index.html

September 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 August results)

  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index* Responses
Sales 41 (37) 40 (42) 19 (21) 51.1 (43.9) 75 (62)
Inventory 41 (32) 26 (24) 33 (44) 55.4 (56.7) 75 (63)
Prices 10 (15)   3 (  6) 87 (79) 53.5 (53.2) 76 (62)
Promotions 25 (20)   7 (13) 68 (67) 57.9 (54.2) 75 (64)
Hiring 16 ( 9) 18 (  8) 66 (83) 45.8 (51.5) 76 (64)

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 August results)

  % Increased % Decreased % No ChangeIndex* Responses
Sales 68 (59) 15 (22) 17 (19) 75.4 (68.0) 75 (64)
Inventory 42 (52) 29 (26) 29 (22) 57.8 (63.6) 76 (63)
Prices 16 (17)   7 (  5) 77 (78) 54.3 (56.3) 75 (63)
Promotions 52 (53)   5 (  5) 43 (42) 71.0 (74.0) 75 (64)
Hiring 21 (21) 12 (17) 67 (62) 54.7 (50.6) 75 (63)

September 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 50 (67) 42 (25)  8  (  8)
West 28 (55) 50 (17) 22 (28)
Central 50 (73) 17 (  9) 33 (18)
East 33 (67) 67 (  0)   0 (33)
Southeast 43 (76) 39 (10) 18 (14)

*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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