SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

December 22, 2010 09:02 ET

Shoppers Keeping Michigan Retailers' Spirits Bright

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - December 22, 2010) -  Improved November sales kept Michigan retailers' forecasts upbeat for the rest of what might turn out to be the best holiday shopping season in several years.

The Michigan Retail Index for November showed the best monthly year-over-year sales gains since 1999 and the highest level of retailer optimism since this past April. The Index is a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

"Michigan retailers went into the season with enthusiasm and high expectations. November's sales added more encouragement," said James P. Hallan, MRA president and chief executive officer.

"The Michigan economy is showing signs of life. Consumers appear to be feeling more confident about the future and making purchases they had put off in recent years."

Prior to the start of the season, 58 percent of the state's retailers said they expected better sales this holiday season. On average, they projected a 6 percent gain in sales over last year -- the best forecast since 2004.

The Michigan Retail Index survey for November found that 54 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 26 percent recorded declines and 20 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 68.1, up significantly from 51.0 in October and 56.7 in September.

Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in overall retail activity. A year ago November, the sales performance index was 39.7.

Looking forward, 40 percent of retailers expect sales during December-February to increase over the same period last year, while 17 percent project a decrease and 43 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 73.2, up from 67.4 in October and 56.3 in September. A year ago November, the sales outlook index stood at 56.7.

Increased sales were the norm in all regions of the state and across most trade lines.

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

November 2010 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at www.retailers.com/news/retailindex.html

November 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 October results)

    % Increased   % Decreased   % No Change   Index*   Responses
Sales   54 (41)   26 (39)   20 (20)   68.1 (51.0)   76 (123)
Inventory   37 (38)   26 (18)   37 (44)   50.7 (53.2)   75 (122)
Prices   25 (30)   11 (10)   64 (60)   57.7 (60.3)   75 (122)
Promotions   47 (40)   4 (7)   49 (53)   68.3 (64.2)   75 (122)
Hiring   10 (11)   13 (10)   77 (79)   50.6 (49.1)   75 (121)

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 October results)  

    % Increased   % Decreased   % No Change   Index*   Responses
Sales   40 (53)   17 (15)   43 (32)   73.2 (67.4)   77 (124)
Inventory   20 (28)   31 (26)   49 (46)   55.9 (55.6)   75 (122)
Prices   26 (30)   8 (8)   66 (62)   58.4 (61.5)   74 (122)
Promotions   42 (44)   7 (5)   51 (51)   73.3 (67.5)   75 (121)
Hiring   8 (9)   12 (10)   80 (81)   53.2 (48.6)   74 (121)

November 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   57 (22)   36 (14)   7  (64)
West   50 (42)   33 (16)   17 (42)
Central   64 (46)   18 (18)   18 (36)
East   56 (22)   33 (11)   11 (67)
Southeast   52 (57)   19 (24)   29 (19)

*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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