Retail Sales and Forecasts Rising in Spring

LANSING, MI –(Marketwired – May 19, 2016) – Michigan retailers’ sales and forecasts both rose in April, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Sales performance jumped more than 12 points from the previous month, the largest increase in nearly a year on the 100-point index. Sales forecasts climbed nearly seven points to reach the highest level in nearly three years.

“A surge in consumer confidence combined with employment gains helped improve consumer spending throughout the state,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan. “Retailers expect the momentum to continue throughout the spring.”

Across the U.S., retail sales excluding autos and gasoline climbed a stronger than expected 0.9 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The April Michigan Retail Index survey found 60 percent of Michigan retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 25 percent recorded declines and 15 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 66.0, up from 53.3 in March. A year ago April the performance index stood at 57.6.

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, 76 percent of retailers expect sales during May-July to increase over the same period last year, while 8 percent project a decrease and 16 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 80.1, up from 73.2 in March. A year ago April the outlook index stood at 74.7.

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
April 2016 results
Index figures dating to July 1994 are available at

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   60 (43)   25 (37)   15 (20)   66.0 (53.3)   75 (56)
Inventory   49 (43)   14 (18)   37 (39)   61.1 (61.5)   75 (56)
Prices   8 (9)   4 (9)   88 (82)   51.2 (49.1)   75 (55)

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