Michigan Retail Index Records Best Sales Since July


tOctober’s Michigan Retail Index found that 45 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, 39 percent recorded declines, and 16 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 54.8, the highest recorded since July.

t“The gains this autumn, while small, show consumers are still very much engaged,” says James P. Hallan, president and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association, which develops the index with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “With gasoline prices at a relatively low level and the federal government open again, retailers should be able to meet their projections for modest year-over-year increases in sales.”

tHallan says the October results were better than expected given the federal government shutdown and the flawed rollout of healthcare.gov.

t“The retail industry’s better performance during October points to increased sales during the holiday shopping period,” Hallan says.

tLooking forward, 48 percent of retailers expect sales during November-January to increase over the same period last year. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 64.3, down from 76.3 in September.

tAt the national level, October retail sales excluding autos, gasoline, and building materials rose 0.2 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

tIndex values above 50 generally indicate positive activity — the higher the number, the stronger the activity.