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Economy in Brief

Weekly Chain Store Sales Up, Gasoline Prices Down
by Tom Moeller August 29, 2006

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey, chain store sales rose a moderate 0.6% last week, the first w/w gain since July.

The increase helped the average sales level in August rise 0.4% above July, the first m/m gain in four months.

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 rose a modest 0.1% (-2.4% y/y) in the latest week after several weeks of decline.

The retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline fell another eight cents to an average $2.85 (+9.0% y/y). The decline lowered the average this month to $2.95 versus a July average of $2.98. In spot market trading yesterday, regular unleaded gasoline prices fell sharply to $1.77 as Ernesto was downgraded to a tropical storm and moved out of the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil prices similarly fell with the spot price of WTI crude down to $70.62 per bbl. (+5.1% y/y) and the price is lower today. Natural gas prices also fell to $6.52/mmbtu (-33.9% y/y) in spot trading.

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

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 08/26/06 08/19/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 471.7 469.1 3.6% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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