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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Finish October Firm as Gasoline Prices Decline
by Tom Moeller November 1, 2005

Lower gasoline prices helped raise spending at chain stores. Last week, the retail average price of regular gasoline in the U.S. fell 12 cents for the second consecutive week to $2.48 per gallon (+21.9 y/y). Since the early September peak of $3.07, retail prices are down 19.2% and a 12 cent decline in yesterday's spot market price for gasoline suggests another drop this week.

With a 0.4% rise at the end of October, chain store sales rose for the fifth time in the last six weeks according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey. The gains were enough to pull the month's average sales level up 0.1% from September which fell 1.7% from August.

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 non-auto retail sales less gasoline.

The leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC was unchanged w/w during the latest week (-2.2% y/y) following a 0.9% spurt the prior week.

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.

Oil Price Shocks and Inflation from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is available here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 10/29/05 10/22/05 Y/Y 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 451.6 449.7 4.4% 4.6% 2.9%
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