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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Lost Steam as Gasoline Prices Ticked Up
by Tom Moeller October 23, 2007

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)-UBS reported that chain store sales last week retraced all of the prior week's rise with a 1.5% decline. That drop followed the 1.0% gain in the prior week but nevertheless was the fifth week in the last six of little or negative change

The average level of store sales in October is down 0.6% from the September average. That follows a 0.8% decline in the average level of chain store sales during September versus the August average.

During the last ten years there has been a 45% 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 fell 0.2% (-0.3% y/y) after a 0.2% rise during the prior week.

The decline in chain store sales accompanied a modest six cent rise in average gasoline prices across the country to $2.82 (27.9% y/y) per gallon.

Higher gasoline prices followed the 4.7% m/m increase in crude oil prices so far in October to $83.47 per barrel. That rise since has backed off slightly from the daily high this month of $89.48 per barrel but only to $87.57.

For yesterday's speech by Federal Reserve Board Governor Randall S. Kroszner, Recent Events in Financial Markets, please follow this link.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 10/20/07 10/13/07 Y/Y 2006 2005 2004
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 472.9 480.0 2.2% 3.3% 3.6% 4.7%
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