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Last Updated: 12/20/18

Michigan Retail Index

The Michigan Retail Index is a monthly gauge of key retail activity in Michigan based on a monthly survey of Michigan Retail Association members. A new index is released by MRA on the fourth Wednesday of each month. The index tracks year-to-year increases or decreases in retail sales, inventory, prices, promotional efforts and hiring. It also indicates retailers’ forecasts in these areas for the next three months.

Download the survey's  historical data.

Increased hires, sales shape a strong November

November continued the positive sales trend for Michigan retailers, according to the monthly Retail Index survey that Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) conducts in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch.

The seasonally adjusted performance index of 63.5, grew from October’s 62.9, continuing the positive growth as consumers shopped during the biggest November shopping weeks of the holiday season. A year ago, the Retail Index was 52.3.

The 100-point index provides a snapshot of the state’s overall retail industry. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 165.8 million consumers shopped between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, spending an average of $313.29 per person.

“Numbers were positive as shoppers hit the stores during the largest week in holiday shopping in November,” said James P. Hallan, MRA President and CEO. “We expect Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, to close out a strong year in retail."

The November survey showed that 49 percent of respondents reported sales increases over October. Thirty-seven percent of retailers recorded declines in November and 14 percent reported no change.

The Retail Index shows that 38 percent of Michigan retailers expect strong sales through February, while 21 percent predict a decrease and 41 percent expect no change. That results in an adjusted outlook index of 68.4 – a confident number as consumers finish their last-minute shopping for the holidays and close out the year.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail jobs increased by 18,600 in October, which accounted for 12 percent of the nationwide growth in jobs.

Michigan’s jobless remained at 3.9 percent in November, the same as in October. The national rate remains at 3.7 percent. A year ago in Michigan, it was 4.7 percent.

According to the Senate Fiscal Agency, November 2018 sales tax receipts totaled $664.0 million, up 4.0 percent over November 2017.

November performance

Retailers reporting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month (numbers in parentheses indicate October results). Survey respondents: 57.

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 49 (56) 37 (31) 14 (13) 63.5 (62.9)
Inventory 35 (47) 30 (18) 35 (35) 53.0 (64.5)
Prices 24 (22) 2 (0) 74 (78) 64.9 (60.6)
Promotions 30 (19) 7 (4) 63 (77) 57.2 (56.4)
Hiring 16 (21) 13 (8) 71 (71) 55.4 (54.7)

Outlook for the next three months

Retailers expecting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month (numbers in parentheses indicate October results)

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 38 (58) 21 (13) 41 (29) 68.4 (79.0)
Inventory 19 (33) 44 (33) 37 (34) 56.6 (65.7)
Prices 30 (33) 9 (2) 61 (65) 66.4 (68.2)
Promotions 28 (44) 9 (6) 63 (50) 63.5 (67.2)
Hiring 4 (23) 12 (12) 84 (65) 53.3 (58.8)

November sales performance and outlook for the next three 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 56 (45) 33 (44) 11 (11)
West 50 (25) 37 (12) 13 (63)
Central 80 (60) 20 (20) 0 (20)
East 67 (33) 33 (33) 0 (34)
Southeast 43 (37) 36 (15) 21 (48)

*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.

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