November’s Michigan Retail Index found that 35 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, 42 percent recorded declines, and 23 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 46.7, showing a 13.5 percent year-over-year decrease.
This most recent sales index is the lowest recorded for 2013 and follows a strong October, which had a sales index at 54.8. (Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity — the higher the number, the stronger the activity.)
How last month’s sales will compare to this month is still unknown, but the state’s recent power outages could have an impact on December’s results, says James P. Hallan, president and CEO of the MRA.
“The ice storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of shoppers, as well as some retailers, during what should have been the busiest weekend of the season,” Hallan says. “Will sales lost to the weather be made up in time? Will they be pushed past Christmas or even into the new year? We’re waiting to find out.”
Retailers already were dealing with a compressed shopping season because of the calendar. Although this year’s holiday shopping season was the shortest possible, MRA members’ earlier holiday forecasts showed cautious optimism, averaging a modest 1.3 percent gain over last year.
Looking forward, 30 percent of retailers expect sales during December–February to increase over the same period last year, while 23 percent project a decrease and 47 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 58.4, down from 64.3 in October.