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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Trend Lower
by Tom Moeller  October 23, 2012

Perhaps it's all seasonal, but there's been pressure on consumer spending. Since their peak in mid-July, chain store sales have fallen 5.0%, leaving the y/y gain at 2.9%. Chain store sales fell 0.7% last week and the October average is 0.6% below September. 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% (3.3% 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) 10/20/12 10/13/12 10/06/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 527.0 530.8  530.7 2.9% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
   W/W % -0.7 0.0 0.2 -- -- -- --
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