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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Hold The High Ground, Gas Prices Surge Further
by Tom Moeller April 25, 2006

Chain store sales slipped just 0.2% last week following two consecutive weeks of strong gain, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey.

Chain store sales in April are 1.4% above the March average which rose 0.7% from February.

During the last ten years there has been a 47% correlation between the y/y change in chain store sales and the change in nonauto retail sales less gasoline.

The leading indicator of chain store sales was unchanged (-0.4% y/y) after the prior week's unrevised 0.3% decline. In April, the leading indicator is down 0.4% from the March average which rose 0.3% from February.

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.

Retail gasoline prices surged thirteen cents last week to $2.91 per gallon (30.3% y/y) and lifted the April average to $2.74. Relief from the recent upward pressure may have been in evidence yesterday as spot market gasoline prices fell sharply to $2.18 per gallon from $2.35 on Friday.

The Road to Price Stability from the Federal Reserve Board can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 04/22/06 04/15/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 474.6 475.6 4.1% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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