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Economy in Brief

Weekly Chain Store Sales Remain Flat Versus July
by Tom Moeller August 19, 2009

Encouraging indications that consumer spending was improving faded during August. During the latest week, chain store sales fell 0.9% and that was enough to leave the August average unchanged from July after that month's 1.0% increase from June.

During the last ten years there has been a 69% correlation between the year-to-year growth in chain store sales and the growth in general merchandise sales. The 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.

Prospects for improvement in sales seem limited. The leading indicator of sales ticked up 0.1% (-0.3% y/y) during the latest week and it has been flat all this year.

The Johnson Redbook also reported soft sales of late. General merchandise store sales so far this month slipped a seasonally adjusted 0.6% from July (-4.4% y/y). Department store sales were down 6.6% y/y on a same-store basis while discount store sales fell a lesser 3.4% as shoppers searched for bargains.

Excluding Items from Personal Consumption Expenditures Inflation from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is available here. 

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 08/14/09 08/07/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 491.0 495.6 -0.6% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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