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Economy in Brief

Weekly Chain Store Sales Improve Yet Remain Off From Earlier Highs
by Tom Moeller February 09, 2010

Consumer spending has recovered from its post-holiday slump, but real life is not yet apparent. Weekly chain store sales improved last week although the 1.4% w/w rise left purchases up just slightly from the January average. That average had been boosted by price discounting early in the month.

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.

Also suffering from post-Holiday blues was the leading indicator of chain store sales. It's been roughly unchanged during the last two weeks following four weeks of sharp decline. 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.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 02/06/10 01/30/10 01/23/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 487.1 480.4 479.8 1.8% 0.1% 1.4% 2.8%
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