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Economy in Brief

Lower Gasoline Prices Helped Spending at Chain Stores, Again
by Tom Moeller October 17, 2006

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS reported that chain store sales increased 0.6% last week on the heels of the prior week's 0.5% rise. The gains limited the decline in sales so far in October to 0.2% versus the September average .

The retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline fell for the tenth consecutive week. The four cent decline last week to an average $2.23 (-18.3% y/y) and was to the lowest level since December.

Last week's decline in spot market gasoline prices paused yesterday. The NY harbor price for regular unleaded gasoline rose to $1.54 per gallon versus an average $1.50 last week.

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 for the fifth week in the last six, by 0.1% (0.8% y/y).

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

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 10/14/06 10/07/06 Y/Y 2005 2004 2003
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 468.1 465.4 3.9% 3.6% 4.7% 2.9%
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