Little Change in Michigan Retailers' Tills, According to Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan retailers' sales and short-term forecasts changed little in April from March's lackluster numbers, despite a surge in U.S. retail sales.
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LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan retailers' sales and short-term forecasts changed little in April from March's lackluster numbers, despite a surge in U.S. retail sales.

While retailers across the nation enjoyed their best monthly sales gains in two years, April's Michigan Retail Index found only a minor month-to-month increase in both sales and three-month sales projections. The Index is a survey project of the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

"Not even a late Easter and some warm April weather could push up Michigan retailers' sales," said MRA Chairman and CEO Larry Meyer. "Higher unemployment, higher gas prices and Michigan's struggling economy continued to hurt most retailers."

The Index found that 39 percent of retailers increased sales in April over the same month last year while 47 percent recorded declines and 14 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 42.4, up from 42.0 in March. An Index number below 50 indicates decreased activity for the industry as a whole.

In addition, 54 percent believe their sales will increase for May-July, while 18 percent forecast declines and 28 percent project no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted outlook index of 64, up slightly from 63.2 in March.

In no region of the state did a majority of retailers report better year- to-year sales. Apparel retailers fared the best, with 48 percent reporting sales gains and 48 percent reporting declines. They were also the most optimistic, with 57 percent forecasting gains and 13 percent projecting decreases.

The Michigan Retailers Association is the unified voice of retailing in Michigan and the nation's largest state trade association of general merchandise retailers.

Michigan Retailers Association/Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Michigan Retail Index April 2006 results. Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at www.retailers.com/news/retailindex.html


April Performance
Retailers reporting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to the same month a year ago
(numbers in parentheses indicate March results)

%Increased %Decreased %No Change Index* Responses
Sales
39 (36) 47 (48) 14 (16) 42.4 (42.0) 210 (218)
Inventory
33 (28) 29 (27) 38 (45) 48.3 (45.7) 207 (215)
Prices
40 (32) 6 (7) 54 (61) 65.4 (60.1) 203 (215)
Promotions
24 (28) 9 (4) 67 (68) 56.2 (62.7) 205 (216)
Hiring
8 (9) 10 (7) 82 (84) 47.5 (50.5) 204 (216)


Outlook for Next 3 Months
Retailers expecting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to the same period a year ago

(numbers in parentheses indicate March results)

%Increased %Decreased %No Change Index* Responses
Sales
54 (57) 18 (17) 28 (26) 64.0 (63.2) 207 (215)
Inventory
33 (36) 26 (24) 41 (40) 50.1 (48.8) 207 (215)
Prices
34 (34) 5 (3) 61 (63) 64.2 (61.8) 207 (214)
Promotions
33 (45) 8 (3) 59 (52) 63.2 (69.6) 207 (214)
Hiring
11 (14) 9 (7) 80 (79) 49.9 (51.7) 207 (214)


April Sales Performance & Outlook for Next 3 Months, by Region

(the first number indicates sales performance for the month; the number in parentheses indicates outlook for the next three months)

% Increased % Decreased % No Change
North 45 (66) 44 (13) 11 (21)
West 41 (59) 45 (24) 14 (17)
Central 27 (50) 42 (17) 31 (33)
East 32 (48) 59 (19) 9 (33)
Southeast 43 (39) 46 (20) 11 (41)



*Seasonally adjusted diffusion index. A diffusion index, which is the sum of the percent of respondents indicating increase and half the percent indicating no change, is calculated and then seasonally adjusted using the U.S. Census Bureau's X-11 Seasonal Adjustment procedure. Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in activity, while values below 50 indicate a decrease.

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