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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Rise Again
by Tom Moeller May 5, 2009

Consumer spending recently has taken a firmer stance. Despite the news of weaker sales of light motor vehicle sales last month, chain store sales moved to a firmer footing. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Index store sales rose 0.7% last week and made up the decline of the prior period. The news for the full-month, however, is more encouraging. Added to increases early in the month, chain store sales for all of April rose 1.4% from the March average following that month's tepid 0.3% uptick.

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. These weekly figures are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

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.

Moreover, the outlook for sales continued cautiously optimistic. The leading indicator of sales has been moving sideways since early February. While still negative, the year-to-year change has improved to a negative 2.0%, up from the 6% rate of decline last Fall.

A Minsky Meltdown: Lessons for Central Bankers from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 05/02/09 04/25/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 491.3 488.0 -0.8% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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