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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Remain Low
by Tom Moeller  June 20, 2012

Consumers showed a further disinclination to spend freely last week. Chain store sales were essentially unchanged w/w (3.6% y/y) and remained at the lowest level in two months. Sales in June are 3.9% below the high April average. 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.

The leading indicator of purchases at chain stores suggested better sales to come. It added 0.3% during the week of June 9 to its 0.7% gain during the week prior and was at its highest level since late-March. 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) 06/16/12 06/09/12 06/02/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 527.0 526.8 530.7 3.6% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
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