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Economy in Brief

Weekly Chain Store Sales Slip With Gasoline Prices
by Tom Moeller August 22, 2006

Last week, chain store sales slipped 0.2% again. The decline was the third consecutive week of lackluster sales, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey, and lowered the latest week's total 0.4% below the end of July.

Sales in August on average are 0.3% above July due to a strong gain at the end of last month.

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 leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-UBS was unchanged (-2.3% y/y) in the latest week after several weeks of decline.

Retail gasoline prices fell for the second consecutive week. The eight cent decline to an average $2.92 (+11.9% y/y) for regular unleaded gas compared to a July average of $2.98. In spot market trading yesterday, regular unleaded gasoline prices dropped sharply $1.78, down 60 cents from the daily high reached late last month.

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

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 08/19/06 08/12/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 469.1 470.1 2.7% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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