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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Fell Back; 2.4% Yearly Decline a Record
by Tom Moeller January 27, 2009

Chain store sales last week retraced the prior week's increase, and more, with a 1.8% decline, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Index. The drop followed the prior week's 1.1% increase and it left sales in January about even with the December average. The year-to year change of -2.4% stands as the weakest in the series' history which extends back to 1990.

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 weakened recently. The weekly leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-Goldman Sachs fell 0.7% after a 1.6% decline during the prior week. The average level so far in January is up 1.0% from December, which rose 2.1% versus November. Since the lows of one month ago the index has recovered 3.1%.

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

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 01/24/09 01/17/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 471.0 479.8 -2.4% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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