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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Jumped As Gas Prices Fell Another Dime
by Tom Moeller November 8, 2005

Last week, chain store sales posted the largest gain since April according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey. The 1.0% jump pulled the starting point for November sales 1.3% above the October average which rose just 0.1% from the prior month

The sales jump was aided by another ten cent drop in the average US retail price of regular gasoline to $2.38 per gallon (+18.7 y/y). Retail gas prices are down 22.5% since the early September peak of $3.07 but during the last several days the spot market price for gasoline has bottomed out, suggesting that further retail price declines will be limited.

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 fell 0.6% (-3.4% y/y) during the latest week following an upwardly revised 0.2% gain 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.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 11/05/05 10/29/05 Y/Y 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 456.1 451.6 4.1% 4.6% 2.9%
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