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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Weak As Gasoline Price Surged
by Tom Moeller March 11, 2008

The International Council of Shopping Centers ICSC-UBS Chain Store survey indicated that chain store sales, last week, recovered just 0.3% of the prior period's 0.6% decline. The latest level of sales was about equal to the February 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.

During the latest week the leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-UBS recovered 1.0% after sharp declines during the prior two months.The index has trended steadily lower since early January.

Retail gasoline prices last week jumped seven cents to a new high of $3.23 per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy survey.The gain was pushed by the increase in the wholesale price of gasoline which was up another ten cents yesterday from last week's average.

Strength in crude oil prices has driven gasoline prices. Yesterday's price of $107.90was well up from last week's average $103.43 which had risen nearly three dollars from early this month.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 03/07/08 02/29/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 488.3 487.0 1.6% 2.8% 3.3% 3.6%
Weekly Prices 03/10/08 03/03/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Retail Gasoline ($ per Gallon) 3.23 3.16 26.0% 2.80 2.57 2.27
Light Sweet Crude Oil, WTI  ($ per bbl.) 103.43 100.88 70.0% 94.00 61.11 58.16
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