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Michigan Retailers Association: Mixed Results for Michigan Holiday Shopping

LANSING, MI -- (Marketwire) -- 01/23/13 -- Michigan retail sales fell off sharply in December, but most retailers still reported sales increases for the entire holiday shopping season, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Fifty-four percent of retailers reported better holiday sales than last year, while 30 percent reported declines. Overall, sales at individual Michigan stores and websites were up an average of 2.9 percent, according to the monthly survey of MRA member businesses.

However, December's sales index number fell to 46.6 from 60.2 in November.

"It's fair to call the results 'mixed.' December was a disappointment for many Michigan retailers, and it took strong sales in October and November to offset that end-of-year dip," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

"It's hard to pinpoint the exact reason. But the unemployment rate was stuck at 8.9 percent in December. And perhaps shoppers became cautious over the inaction in Washington prior to Christmas to resolve the 'fiscal cliff' issue and prevent significant tax increases."

The December Michigan Retail Index found that 36 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 46 percent recorded declines and 18 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 46.6, down from 60.2 in November. A year ago December it was 59.1.

The Index gauges the performance of the state's overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by MRA and the Federal Reserve. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Looking forward, 40 percent of retailers expect sales during January - March to increase over the same period last year, while 22 percent project a decrease and 38 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 63.7, down from 72.8 in November. A year ago December it was 71.8.

Note: William Strauss, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, can be reached at 312.322.8151.

Michigan Retail Index
December 2012 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at

December 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 November results)

              % Increased  % Decreased  % No Change  Index*       Responses
Sales         36 (43)      46 (30)      18 (27)      46.6 (60.2)  117 (66)
Inventory     30 (38)      29 (17)      41 (45)      57.8 (57.4)  116 (66)
Prices        25 (26)      9 (6)        66 (68)      59.9 (60.8)  116 (66)
Promotions    35 (33)      4 (8)        61 (59)      64.1 (58.8)  116 (66)
Hiring        8 (4)        11 (8)       81 (88)      50.7 (50.5)  116 (65)

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 November results)

              % Increased  % Decreased  % No Change  Index*       Responses
Sales         40 (47)      22 (18)      38 (35)      63.7 (72.8)  116 (66)
Inventory     25 (25)      26 (26)      49 (49)      58.5 (58.1)  115 (65)
Prices        25 (29)      7 (5)        68 (66)      58.2 (63.7)  115 (65)
Promotions    32 (31)      4 (5)        64 (64)      65.3 (67.6)  115 (65)
Hiring        10 (8)       7 (12)       83 (80)      53.7 (51.2)  114 (65)

December 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         36 (43)      46 (25)      18 (32)
West          25 (29)      50 (21)      25 (50)
Central       64 (80)      0 (10)       36 (10)
East          45 (27)      55 (18)      0 (55)
Southeast     32 (39)      55 (24)      13 (37)

Question of the Month
What was your percentage increase or decrease, compared to last year, for the 2012 holiday season?

Increase more than 5%      38.4%       Decrease 5% or less        7.0%
Increase 5% or less        16.3%       Decrease more than 5%      23.3%
Same                       15.1%       Overall average            +2.9%

*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.

Tom Scott
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