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Economy in Brief

U.S. Weekly Chain Store Sales Look Lifeless
by Tom Moeller February 23, 2010

Consumer spending has yet to show real spark. Weekly chain store sales improved by 2.3% last week but for the month so far sales remained down slightly from the January average. Sales also remained down 1.6% from last summer's high.

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.

During the last ten years there has been a 69% correlation between the year-to-year growth in chain store sales and the growth in general merchandise retail sales. The weekly figures are available in Haver's SURVEYW database.

Also treading water has been the leading indicator of chain store sales. It's been roughly unchanged since early-January and flat for the last year. This 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.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 02/20/10 02/13/10 02/06/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 490.4 479.5 487.1 0.9% 0.1% 1.4% 2.8%
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