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Economy in Brief

Weekly Chain Store Sales Trend Lower During September
by Tom Moeller September 22, 2009

Encouraging indications that consumer spending was improving faded further during September. During the latest week, chain store sales fell 2.0% and that was enough to pull sales for the month so far to their lowest level since 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 slipped 0.5% (-2.0% y/y) during the latest week though it had risen somewhat earlier this summer.

The Johnson Redbook also reported soft sales of late. General merchandise store sales so far this month increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% from August (-2.1% y/y) following three months of sometimes sharp decline. Department store sales were down 4.8% y/y on a same-store basis while discount store sales slipped just 0.2% as shoppers searched for bargains.

The Dynamics of Automobile Expenditures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is available here

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 09/19/09 09/12/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 484.6 494.5 0.6% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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