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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Tick Higher
by Tom Moeller  November 1, 2011

Chain stores sales rose 0.7% last week and reversed the prior week's decline. For the last six weeks, sales have moved sideways and have fallen 3.6% below the July peak. During the last ten years there has been a 66% 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 leading indicator of chain store sales ticked up 0.2% w/w (0.7% y/y) in the latest period and reversed part of the prior week's decline. 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.

The chain store sales data are in Haver's SURVEYW.

GDP-Based Recession Indicator from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 10/29/11 10/22/11 10/15/11 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 515.9 512.3 516.6 3.0% 2.9% 0.1% 1.4%
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