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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Reverse July-August Improvement
by Tom Moeller September 8, 2010

Consumers are pulling back from their easier-spending ways early this summer. Weekly chain store sales fell 0.4% last week leaving the level at its lowest since the end of June. 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 moved sideways again last week but remained up 0.9% y/y. 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 government bond yield.

The chain store data can be found in Haver's SURVEYW database.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 09/04/10 08/28/10 08/21/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 503.5 505.5 505.0 1.8% 0.1% 1.4% 2.8%
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