Short-term sales expected to pick up

Published 5:14 pm Friday, February 25, 2005

By Staff
LANSING - Michigan retailers' short-term sales forecasts are picking up, although actual sales remain sluggish, according to the monthly Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
The January Index found that 60 percent of retailers believe their sales will increase for February-April over the same period last year, while 27 percent project as-good sales and 13 percent predict sales will decline.
The results create a seasonally adjusted outlook index of 69.1, up from 62.0 in December.
At the same time, only 34 percent of retailers increased sales over January 2004, while 15 percent reported as-good sales and 51 percent recorded declines.
The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 44.4, down from 48.3 in December and far short of the 50 level that would indicate an increase in positive activity for the industry.
January's lackluster numbers follow a slower-than-anticipated holiday shopping season.
They also strongly suggest that retail sales in Michigan trailed those across the nation.
Nationally, both the International Council of Shopping Centers and the National Retail Federation said gift cards, clearance sales and fresh spring merchandise helped many retailers ring up "solid" sales during January.
MRA is the unified voice of retailing in Michigan and the nation's largest state trade association of general merchandise retailers.