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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Crimped By Higher Gas Prices & Inclement Weather
by Tom Moeller March 29, 2005

Chain store sales fell 1.0% last week. Abundant rain, warm temperatures and, versus February, a 12% rise in gasoline prices to an average $2.15 per gallon may have caused the spending decline. The y/y gain in sales improved in part due to the early timing of Easter in 2005.

Consumers' pause came after spending enough to lift the average of sales in March 1.1% ahead of February according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey.

During the last ten years there has been a 56% correlation between the y/y change in chain store sales and the change in non-auto retail sales less gasoline, as published by the US Census Department. Chain store sales correspond directly with roughly 14% of nonauto retail sales less gasoline.

The leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC slipped 0.5% (-0.6% y/y) and gave back all of the moderate gains during the prior two weeks.

The ICSC-UBS retail chain-store sales index is constructed using the same-store sales (stores open for one year) reported by 78 stores of seven retailers: Dayton Hudson, Federated, Kmart, May, J.C. Penney, Sears and Wal-Mart.

Consumer Sentiment, the Economy, and the News Media from the Federal Reserve Board can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 03/26/05 03/19/05 Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 450.2 454.6 4.5% 4.6% 2.9% 3.6%
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