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Michigan retailers forecast 2017 sales gains

LANSING, MI--(Marketwired - February 17, 2017) - More than four of five Michigan retailers (82 percent) expect to increase 2017 sales over last year despite a slow start, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Only 7 percent expect their sales to decline and 11 percent see no change.

Taken together, retailers' individual forecasts average a gain of 2.6 percent over last year. Last January they predicted average sales growth of 2 percent for 2016. At year's end, they reported annual results averaging a positive 0.5 percent.

"Retailers look at 2017 and see an economy growing more rapidly with more people working and spending money," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

He pointed out that, "retail sales also started slowly last year, but then built good momentum until falling off at the end."

National Retail Federation economists predict U.S. retail sales will rise between 3.7 and 4.2 percent this year, excluding autos, gasoline and restaurants. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the economists' forecast, are expected to climb 8-12 percent.

The Michigan Retail Index survey for January found 29 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 55 percent recorded declines and 16 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 40.5, down from 52.0 in December. A year ago January the performance index stood at 47.1.

The 100-point index gauges the performance of the state's overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by MRA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Detroit branch. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Looking forward, 69 percent of retailers expect sales during February - April to increase over the same period last year, while 3 percent project a decrease and 28 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 79.4, up from 65.3 in December. A year ago January, the outlook index stood at 70.5.

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
January 2017 results
2016 Index figures are available at

January 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 December results)                          
              % Increased  % Decreased  % No Change    Index*    Responses  
Sales           29 (39)      55 (41)      16 (20)   40.5 (52.0)   75 (80)   
Inventory       23 (22)      28 (34)      49 (44)   59.2 (47.5)   74 (80)   
Prices          11 ( 4)      8 (09)       81 (87)   53.3 (49.5)   74 (80)   
Promotions      15 (33)      5 ( 6)       80 (61)   60.6 (59.4)   74 (79)   
Hiring          7 (13)       15 ( 6)      78 (81)   48.4 (52.8)   74 (80)   
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 December results)                          
              % Increased  % Decreased  % No Change    Index*    Responses  
Sales           69 (36)      3 (20)       28 (44)   79.4 (65.3)   72 (80)   
Inventory       51 (21)      11 (31)      38 (48)   67.9 (51.5)   73 (80)   
Prices          25 (20)      3 ( 6)       72 (74)   61.1 (55.8)   73 (79)   
Promotions      47 (39)      0 ( 4)       53 (57)   71.6 (72.4)   74 (77)   
Hiring          23 (14)      4 (15)       73 (71)   58.6 (51.9)   74 (79)   
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           18 (64)      55 ( 0)      27 (36)                           
West            28 (72)      48 ( 8)      24 (20)                           
Central         22 (57)      67 ( 0)      11 (43)                           
East            50 (75)      50 ( 0)      0 (25)                            
Southeast       38 (70)      54 ( 0)      8 (30)                            
Question of the Month                                                       
By how much do you expect your 2017 sales to increase or decrease over last 
Increase > 5% Increase 0-5% No Change Decrease 0-5% Decrease > 5%  Average  
     31%           51%         11%         6%            1%         +2.6%   

*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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