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Economy in Brief

Chain Store Sales & Gasoline Prices Fell Again
by Tom Moeller October 3, 2006

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS indicated that chain store sales fell last week. The 0.3% decline was the fourth drop in as many weeks and pulled the average of sales in September 0.5% below August.

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 retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline also fell last week. The seven cent w/w decline to an average $2.31 (-21.1% y/y) was to the lowest level since late February.

The earlier decline in spot market prices, however, recently stabilized. In trading yesterday, the NY harbor price for regular unleaded gasoline was $1.55 per gallon versus an average $1.54 last week and $1.53 the prior period.

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 reversed all of the prior week's decline with a 0.7% rise, the third gain in the last four weeks. The indicator in September rose 0.7% from the August average, the first m/m rise since June.

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

Consumer Confidence Surveys: Can They Help Us Forecast Consumer Spending in Real Time? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is available here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 09/30/06 09/23/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 463.0 464.2 3.3% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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