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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Recovered Last Week
by Tom Moeller February 3, 2009

With a 1.6% increase last week chain store sales recovered nearly all of the prior week's decline, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Index. Nevertheless, the year-to year change of -2.5% continued as the weakest in the series' history which extends back to 1990. For January as a whole, sales ticked up 0.1% from December after that month's 0.3% gain.

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 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.

The outlook for sales weakened further as the weekly leading indicator of chain store sales from ICSC-Goldman Sachs fell 0.7% and it was the third straight week of decline. The average level in January was up 0.6% from December, which rose 2.1% versus November. Since the lows of one month ago the index has recovered 3.0%.

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

The January 2009 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices from the Federal Reserve Board can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 01/30/09 01/23/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 478.5 471.0 -2.5% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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