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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Tick Higher
by Tom Moeller  September 25, 2012

Chain store sales nudged up 0.6% last week (2.9% y/y) but barely dented the prior week's 2.5% decline. For September so far sales are 1.2% below August adding to that month's 1.8% decline. 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% (+2.7% y/y) after two modest weekly gains. 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) 09/21/12 09/14/12 09/07/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 531.1  528.0 541.4 2.9% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
   W/W % 0.6 -2.5 1.0 -- -- -- --
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