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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Recover Modestly
by Tom Moeller January 21, 2009

Chain store sales last week rose 1.1%, but failed to recover even half of the prior week's 2.3% decline, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Index. As a result, for January so far sales have risen a modest 0.5% from December when sales rose 0.3%. These gains follow three consecutive months of decline between 1.0% and 1.9%. The year-to year change of -1.8% stands as the weakest since early 2003.

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.

During the last ten years there has been a 64% correlation between the year-to-year growth in chain store sales and the growth in general merchandise sales.

The outlook for sales is for modest recovery as suggested by the weekly leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-Goldman Sachs. It fell 1.5% after a modest 0.6% rise in the opening week of January. Nevertheless, there were strong week-to-week increases during December. Therefore, the average level so far in January is up 1.5% from December, which rose 2.1% versus November. Since the lows of one month ago the index has recovered 3.8%.

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

After Rocky 2008, U.S. Consumers Seek Stable Ground in 2009 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 01/17/09 01/10/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 479.8 474.5 -1.8% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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