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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Back Off
by Tom Moeller  September 5, 2012

Chain store sales slipped 0.4% last week (+3.7% y/y) and reversed the prior week's increase. For August as a whole, sales fell 1.6% m/m after a 3.3% July gain. 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 weakened for the sixth week in the last seven (+1.5% 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) 08/31/12 08/25/12 08/18/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 536.1 538.4 535.9 3.7% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
   W/W % -0.4 0.5 -1.5 -- -- -- --
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