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Economy in Brief


U.S. Weekly Chain Store Sales Recoup Earlier Decline -- Month Looks Firm
by Tom Moeller July 21, 2010

The consumer continues ready to spend. Chain store sales thus rose 1.4% last week and recovered virtually all of the prior week's decline. As a result, July sales so far in the month are 1.6% above June's average after that month's very slight decline. During the last ten years there has been a 68% 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. 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.

The leading indicator of chain store sales rose for the fifth straight week to the highest level since March. 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. 

Economic hangover: recovery is likely to be prolonged, painful from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis can be found here.

ICSC-UBS (SA, 1977=100) 07/17/10 07/10/10 07/03/10 Y/Y 2009 2008 2007
Total Weekly Chain Store Sales 512.3 505.3 513.2 4.2% 0.1% 1.4% 2.8%
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