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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Rose As Gasoline Prices Fell
by Tom Moeller June 22, 2004

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS reported that chain store sales ticked up just 0.1% last week, but the gain followed small increases in the prior two weeks following three weeks of decline.

Sales improvement may have been related to the decline in the average retail price for unleaded regular gasoline which fell to $1.94 last week. Prices were down $0.13 (6.2%) from the peak in the third week of May.

Recent increases in chain store sales left the average so far in June 0.5% below May.

During the last ten years there has been a 59% correlation between y/y change in chain store sales and the change in non-auto retail sales less gasoline.

The ICSC-UBS retail chain-store sales index is based on same-store sales reported by 78 stores of seven retailers: Dayton Hudson, Federated, Kmart, May, J.C. Penney, Sears and Wal-Mart.

Lower spot crude oil prices have led the decline in gasoline prices with the price of West Texas Intermediate crude yesterday at $37.63 versus its peak of $41.88 on May 24th.

Moving in the other direction, wholesale natural gas prices moved higher to $6.49/mmbtu (+10.0% y/y), up 28% versus the daily low in February of $5.08/mmbtu.

For the latest Short Term Energy Outlook from the US Department of Energy click here.

Energy Prices 06/21/04 12/31/03 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Unleaded Regular Gasoline, NY ($/Gal.) $1.94 $1.48 29.5% $1.56 $1.35 $1.42
Domestic Spot Market Price: West Texas Intermediate ($/Barrel) $37.63 $32.55 24.3% $31.10 $26.17 $25.97
ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 06/19/04 06/12/04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Total Weekly Retail Chain Store Sales 439.8 439.2 4.9% 2.9% 3.6% 2.1%
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