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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Up Again, Gasoline Prices Down Sharply
by Tom Moeller September 6, 2006

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey indicated that chain store sales rose another 0.3% last week after the 0.6% increase at the end of August.

The gains were the first back to back weekly increases in a month and lifted sales in early September 0.6% above the August average which rose 0.4% from July.

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 slipped another 0.1% (-2.5% y/y) in the latest week.

The retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline dropped a sharp twelve cents to an average $2.73 (-11.1% y/y), the lowest level since early April. In spot market trading yesterday, regular unleaded gasoline prices fell again to $1.67, down twelve cents from last week's average.

Oil prices also fell with the spot price of WTI crude down to $68.61 per bbl. (+4.0% y/y). Natural gas prices similarly fell to $5.49/mmbtu (-52.6% 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) 09/02/06 08/26/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 473.2 471.7 3.9% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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