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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Recovery Stutters
by Tom Moeller  August 7, 2012

Chain store sales were roughly unchanged last week (2.4% y/y) after a 1.7% decline during the prior week. However, the weakness contrasts with a solid 3.3% rise during all of July. 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 slipped 0.2% last week but was up 3.3% y/y and near its highest level since before the recession. 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) 08/04/12 07/28/12 07/21/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 545.5 545.3 555.0 2.4% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
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