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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Chain Store Sales Recover
by Tom Moeller June 29, 2010

Consumer spending overall is holding up but shopping at chain stores is barely treading water. Sales last week rose a healthy 2.1% to their highest level since early-May. The increase, however, left the June average down slightly from May and down 2.2% from April. 

During the last ten years there has been a 68% correlation between the y/y change in chain store sales and the change in retail sales at general merchandise stores. That correlation recently has increased. General merchandise store sales account for 15% of total retail sales.

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.

The leading indicator of chain store sales has shown some life recently. During the latest week it rose 0.5% to the highest level since early-May. The 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) 06/26/10 06/19/10 06/12/10 y/y 2009 2008 2007
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 508.1 497.6 499.9 3.0% 0.1% 1.4% 2.8%
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