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Economy in Brief

U.S. Chain Store Sales Reverse Thanksgiving's Gain
by Tom Moeller  December 4, 2012

A promising start to this holiday season came to naught with the new chain store sales report from the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs. Sales fell 3.1% last week and reversed Thanksgiving week's 3.3% rise. For the whole month sales rose 0.8% and reversed most of  October's 0.5% 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.

Prospects for sales have improved. The leading indicator of purchases at chain stores rose 0.7% w/w and repeated the prior week's rise. The gain pulled the index to a new high. 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) 11/31/12 11/24/12 11/17/12 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 531.0 548.0 530.6 3.2% 3.2% 2.9% 0.1%
   W/W % -3.1 3.3 -0.3 -- -- -- --
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