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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  March 20, 2012

Chain store sales rose 0.9% last week to the highest level since the holiday shopping season. That was enough to raise the year-to-year increase to 3.3%. During the last ten years there has been a 72% 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.

Further spending improvement seems likely. The leading indicator of chain store sales jumped 1.0% w/w to the highest level since early 2007. Moreover, year-to-year improvement rose to 5.2%. 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) 03/17/12 03/10/12 03/03/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 531.4 526.4 522.7 3.3% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
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