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Economy in Brief

U.S. Shoppers Tightened Their Purse Strings
by Tom Moeller September 23, 2008

The International Council of Shopping Centers reported that chain store sales fell 1.0% last week after an even sharper 1.6% drop during the week prior. The weakness of sales for September so far is reflected in a decline which averaged 1.5% from the August average following that month's 0.2% uptick.

Year-to-year growth in sales eased to 1.3% from the recent peak rate of growth of 2.9%. That compares to a slowdown in the growth in August nonauto retail sales less gasoline, as reported by the Commerce Department, to 3.2% y/y from 4.1% during all of 2007.

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 improved 0.8% (-3.4% y/y). The latest was the highest level since mid-July.

The chain store sales figures are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

Do Oil Prices Directly Affect the Stock Market? from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is available here.

Trend Unemployment and What It Says about Unemployment Patterns, also from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 09/20/08 09/13/08 Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 481.7 486.6 1.3% 2.8% 3.3% 3.6%
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