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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Surge
by Tom Moeller December 20, 2011

This season's holiday selling gained steam last week. Chain store sales jumped 3.4% (4.6% y/y) to the highest level since early-August. 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 was unchanged w/w (+1.4% y/y) in the latest period to lift the month 1.1% above October. 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.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 12/17/11 12/10/11 12/03/11 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 531.8 514.4 514.7 4.6% 2.9% 0.1% 1.4%
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