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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Ticked Up But Still Near Lows
by Tom Moeller December 30, 2008

Chain store sales during Christmas week gave nothing to cheer about, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Index. The level of sales last week fell 1.5% and that reversed about half of the prior week's rise. For the month, December sales did rise but only by a scant 0.3% from the November average. That uptick followed declines of between 1.0% and 1.9% during each of the prior three months.

The year-to-year decline in sales of 1.8% was the weakest performance since early 2003. During the last ten years there has been a 59% correlation between the y/y change in chain store sales and the change in nonauto retail sales less gasoline.

The ICSC-Goldman Sachs 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.

Perhaps better news on sales are in store. The weekly leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-Goldman Sachs jumped another 1.1% after a 0.2% rise during the prior week. And since the lows of several weeks ago the index has recovered 3.4%.

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

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 12/27/08 12/20/08 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 478.9 486.1 -1.8% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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