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Economy in Brief

Weekly Chain Store Sales Slip Following Several Lackluster Weeks
by Tom Moeller November 11, 2009

It appears that consumer malaise continued early this month. During the latest week, chain store sales slipped 0.1% after having been roughly unchanged during October and down moderately in September. Nevertheless, the sharp down-trend in sales of earlier this year appears over.

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.

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 retail sales. The weekly figures are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

Prospects for an improvement in sales continue to appear limited. The leading indicator of sales has been roughly unchanged since the spring of this year. On the other hand, a backslide in spending also seems unlikely. The sharp declines of the leading indicator of sales from 2007 to early-2009 are over.

This composite leading economic indicator is compiled from four series: (1) the MBA's volume index of mortgage applications
for home purchase (2) the ABC News/Money magazine's survey of consumer buying conditions (3) new filings for jobless benefits and (4) the 30-year government bond yield.

Employment growth: Cyclical movements or structural change from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is available here .

The Current State of the Economy and a Look to the Future (With Reference to William ‘Sidestroke’ Miles, W. Somerset Maugham, Don Ameche and Kenneth Arrow) is the title of yesterday's speech by Dallas Fed Governor Richard W. Fisher and it can be found here

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 11/07/09 10/31/09 Y/Y 2008 2007 2006
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 490.9 491.3 2.9% 1.4% 2.8% 3.3%
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