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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Fall Again
by Tom Moeller  August 21, 2012

Chain store sales fell 1.5% last week (+3.1% y/y), the third week of sluggishness in the last four. However, soft sales now contrast with a solid 3.3% rise in purchases 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 also weakened substantially during four of the last five weeks (+1.7% y/y). 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) 08/18/12 08/11/12 08/04/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 535.9 544.0 545.5 3.1% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
   W/W % -1.5 -0.3 0.0 -- -- -- --
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