SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

January 20, 2016 13:01 ET

Warm Weather Helped Cool Holiday Sales

LANSING, MI--(Marketwired - January 20, 2016) - Heat Miser appeared to get the upper hand, as unseasonably warm weather helped push Michigan retailers' holiday sales below forecasts. Sales increased 0.4 percent over the 2014 season despite retailers' forecasts of a 2 percent rise, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

(Heat Miser battles his brother Snow Miser for control of Christmas weather in a popular animated television special from the 1970s, The Year Without a Santa Claus.)

Across the U.S., holiday sales rose 3 percent -- also below preseason forecasts of 3.7 percent -- the National Retail Federation reported.

The warmer weather hurt sales of winter apparel and other winter merchandise. Deep discounts, mobile shopping and strong figures from last year also hurt performance. 

For the holiday season, 45 percent of Michigan retailers reported year-to-year increases, while 34 percent experienced declines and 21 percent said sales were flat.

Sales for all of 2015 were slightly stronger, coming in at 0.8 percent above 2014. Fifty-six percent rang up higher sales for the year, while 35 said sales fell and 9 percent said sales were unchanged.

December failed to provide a big finish to the season. The index survey found 42 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 49 percent recorded declines and 9 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 48.7, down from 50.2 in November. A year ago December the performance index stood at 66.5.

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 Bank of Chicago's Detroit branch. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Looking forward, 47 percent of retailers expect sales during January-March to increase over the same period last year, while 22 percent project a decrease and 31 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 71.0, up from 62.6 in November. A year ago December the outlook index stood at 68.0.

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 2015 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 42 (39) 49 (45) 9 (16) 48.7 (50.2) 77 (74)
Inventory 35 (36) 31 (27) 34 (37) 56.6 (51.7) 77 (74)
Prices 3 (10) 10 (9) 87 (81) 47.3 (52.0) 77 (74)
Promotions 42 (42) 4 (7) 54 (51) 66.6 (66.2) 77 (73)
Hiring 11 (7) 10 (11) 79 (82) 51.4 (50.1) 77 (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 47 (42) 22 (34) 31 (24) 71.0 (62.6) 77 (70)
Inventory 28 (12) 26 (45) 46 (43) 58.7 (40.7) 76 (73)
Prices 19 (10) 8 (9) 73 (81) 55.6 (51.2) 77 (73)
Promotions 36 (38) 4 (4) 60 (58) 70.2 (73.0) 77 (73)
Hiring 17 (10) 13 (11) 70 (79) 54.3 (54.7) 77 (73)

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 20 (33) 67 (40) 13 (27)
West 33 (48) 53 (24) 14 (28)
Central 46 (36) 45 (18) 9 (46)
East 0 (0) 50 (0) 50 (100)
Southeast 60 (60) 40 (16) 0 (24)

Question of the Month

How much did your 2015 holiday sales increase or decrease over last year?

Increase > 5% Increase 0-5% No Change Decrease 0-5% Decrease > 5% Average
           
24% 21% 21% 15% 19% 0.4%

How much did your total 2015 sales increase or decrease over last year?

Increase > 5% Increase 0-5% No Change Decrease 0-5% Decrease > 5% Average
           
35% 21% 9% 13% 22% 0.8%

*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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