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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales Slip Despite Lower Gasoline Prices
by Tom Moeller September 12, 2006

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS survey reported that chain store sales slipped 0.3% last week and reversed the prior period's gain.

Despite the backpedal, the average level of sales in September is up 0.5% from the August average. August sales 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 jumped 0.6% (-1.5% y/y) in the latest week after moving sideways during most of August.

The retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline fell another eleven cents last week to an average $2.62 (-11.4% y/y), the lowest level since early April. In spot market trading yesterday regular unleaded gasoline prices held at $1.61 per gallon, down four cents from last week's average.

Oil prices slipped with the spot price of WTI crude down to $65.62 per bbl. (+3.6% y/y). Natural gas prices also slipped to $5.30/mmbtu (-50.7% 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) 09/09/06 09/02/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 471.8 473.2 3.8% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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