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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: 01/20/16

Michigan Retail Index

Warm Weather Helped Cool Holiday Sales

Heat Miser appeared to get the upper hand, as unseasonably warm weather helped push Michigan retailers’ holiday sales below forecasts. Sales increased 0.4 percent over the 2014 season despite retailers’ forecasts of a 2 percent rise, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index survey, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

(Heat Miser battles his brother Snow Miser for control of Christmas weather in a popular animated television special from the 1970s, The Year without a Santa Claus.)

The warmer weather hurt sales of winter apparel and other winter merchandise. Deep discounts, mobile shopping and strong figures from last year also hurt performance.

December failed to provide a big finish to the season. The index survey found 42 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 49 percent recorded declines and 9 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 48.7, down from 50.2 in November. A year ago December the performance index stood at 66.5.

Looking forward, 47 percent of retailers expect sales during January–March to increase over the same period last year, while 22 percent project a decrease and 31 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 71.0, up from 62.6 in November. A year ago December the outlook index stood at 68.0.