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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Fell, Gasoline Prices Down
by Tom Moeller February 12 2008

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers ICSC-UBS Chain store survey, chain store sales fell 0.7% last week after the 1.7% recovery during the prior period. Despite the decline, sales so far this month are up 0.5% from January.

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.

During the last week of January the leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-UBS ticked up 0.2% after the 1.8% w/w collapse during the prior week.

Prospects for the Economy in 2008 by Janet L. Yellen, President of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, can be found here.

Retail gasoline prices recently moved further off the high reached last Spring of over $3.20 per gallon, according to the US Department of Energy survey.Last week the average retail price for regular grade gasoline fell to $2.96, down 8.0% from last year's peak in May. Prices did, however, remain up nearly 6% from an average of $2.80 last year.

The recent decline in gasoline prices owes mostly to the topping and decline in the price of crude oil. For spot WTI crude oil prices last week of $88.42 per barrel were down 10% from last year's high which nearly touched $100 per barrel.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 02/09/08 02/02/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 487.2 490.6 1.8% 2.8% 3.3% 3.6%
Weekly Prices 02/11/08 02/04/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 2.96 2.98 32.1% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) -- 88.42 50.1% 94.00 61.11 58.16
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