State’s Retailers Optimistic Despite Slow Sales in May

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The month of May’s sluggish sales aren’t holding back Michigan’s retailers, the majority of whom expect to see an increase in sales this summer, says the recent Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

In fact, with 63 percent of those surveyed expect to see a year-over-year sales increase from June to August, says James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. He says Michigan’s retailers are the most optimistic they have been in nine years. Only 8 percent project a decrease and 29 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 79.3, up from 73.9 in April and the highest since November 2004.

“We expected sales to keep rising in May after a strong rebound in April. Instead, they fell off,” Hallan says. “Retailers’ optimism continued rising anyway, likely because they know the economy is improving and consumers should be willing to spend.”

The May survey of MRA members showed 30 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 46 percent recorded declines and 24 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 47.7, down from 51.1, in April. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

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