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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Reverse Earlier Gains
by Tom Moeller May 19, 2009

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs Index, store sales stuttered last week and reversed all of the gains early in the month. In fact weekly sales fell to their lowest since late-March. For the month so far, chain store sales are down just slightly from April after that month's 1.4% rise from the March average.

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.

Not only did sales decline, but the leading indicator of sales fell as well and reversed earlier increases. Nevertheless, the y/y change remained less depressed at -2.4% versus the 6.0% rate of decline last Fall.

Comparing patterns of default among prime and subprime mortgages from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 05/16/09 05/09/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 486.8 492.7 -0.3% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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