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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Edged Up, With Gasoline Prices
by Tom Moeller January 24, 2006

Chain store sales edged 0.3% higher last week following the sharp 1.4% drop during the prior period, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey.

The increase left sales in January 1.3% ahead of December.

The leading indicator of chain store sales slipped 0.1% following two weeks of strong increase and the January average remained 1.2% ahead of December which rose 0.8%.

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.

Redbook Research reported that chain store sales in January were 0.4% below (+3.6% y/y) December. The Redbook survey samples same-store sales at general merchandise retailers representing about 9,000 stores. Same-store sales measure revenue at stores open at least a year.

During the last ten years there has been a 67% correlation between the y/y change in the Redbook tally of chain store sales and the change in non-auto retail sales less gasoline.

The latest store sales were accompanied by another rise in gasoline prices at the pump. Last week's two cent increase to an average $2.34 per gallon of regular unleaded followed a slight dip the prior week and pulled the January average to $2.31. In spot market trading yesterday gasoline fell three cents after a four cent rise on Friday, but declines early last week left the latest level two cents below last week's average.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 01/21/06 01/14/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 459.0 457.7 3.3% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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