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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Down Again With Gasoline Prices
by Tom Moeller May 23, 2006

Chain store sales dropped last week for the second week in the last three reported the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS. The 0.8% w/w decline followed an unchanged level the prior period and a 0.4% dip to open the month.

In May, sales on average are roughly even with the April average which rose 1.6% from March. 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 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.

The latest leading indicator of chain chain store sales from ICSC-UBS fell for the fourth straight week. The 0.6% decline pulled the indicator down 2.7% versus one year ago and 4.5% from the recent peak in early January.

Lower chain store sales accompanied a six cent drop in retail gasoline prices to $2.88 per gallon. Nevertheless, average gasoline prices this month are up seventeen cents from April at $2.91 (34.8% y/y). Yesterday gasoline prices in the NY spot market recovered to the highest level in four days but spot prices this month have averaged roughly ten cents below the April level.

The NOAA: 2006 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook released yesterday can be found here.

The latest Short-Term Energy Outlook from the US Energy Information Administration is available here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 05/20/06 05/13/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 472.0 475.7 3.5% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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