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The Michigan Retail Index is a monthly broad-based gauge of key retail activity in Michigan. A new index is released by the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The index is based on a monthly survey of MRA members. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago assists in collecting, compiling and interpreting the survey data.

Last Updated: 11/20/15

Michigan Retail Index

Retailers post small sales gains in October

Michigan retailers rang up slightly better sales in October, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The monthly retail industry performance gauge rose three points from September, to 54.1 on the 100-point Index.

“October’s moderate gains help set the table for the upcoming holiday shopping season,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan. “Retailers are looking forward to a solid season, the best since 2012.”

MRA released its annual holiday sales forecast last month. Two of every three survey respondents expect to increase sales over last year’s holiday season. The average projected change from last year was a gain of 2 percent.

Hallan pointed to Michigan’s improved economic conditions this season as reasons for the optimism, including a lower unemployment rate, lower gasoline prices and higher consumer confidence.

The October survey of MRA members showed 41 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 34 percent recorded declines and 25 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 54.1, up from 51.1 in September. A year ago October the performance index stood at 50.3.

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, 48 percent of retailers expect sales during November–January to increase over the same period last year, while 20 percent project a decrease and 32 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 66.6, down from 75.4 in September. A year ago October the outlook index stood at 67.5.

Note: William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, can be reached at 312.322.8151.