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Economy in Brief

Lower Gasoline Prices Helped Lift Chain Store Sales
by Tom Moeller October 11, 2006

The retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline fell for the ninth consecutive week. The nickel decline last week lowered the price to an average $2.26 (-20.6% y/y) and was to the lowest level since February.

Moreover, the earlier decline in spot market prices resumed this week. In trading yesterday, the NY harbor price for regular unleaded gasoline fell to $1.48 per gallon versus an average $1.54 averaged during each of the prior two weeks.

For the opening week of October, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS indicated that chain store sales rose 0.5% following four consecutive weeks of decline. The gain still left sales 0.5% below the average of sales in September which fell 0.5% from 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 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 again by 0.3%, the fourth gain in the last five weeks. The indicator in September rose 0.3% from the August average. Though slight (and downwardly revised), it was the first m/m rise since June.

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

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 10/07/06 09/30/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 465.4 463.0 3.7% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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