• Print
  • Email

Last Updated: 06/26/20

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.

May sales still dismal but retailers optimistic for summer

May retail sales continued to tank with stores shut down for most of the month.

The May Retail Index survey came in at 30, up from April’s 10.8. The seasonally adjusted performance index is conducted by Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch.

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.

The May survey showed that only 60% of respondents reported sales declines over April. Thirty percent recorded increases and 10% reported no change.

While northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula stores opened May 22, all other regions remained shut until May 26, when the Governor allowed retail by appointment. Those stores could not fully reopen their doors until June 4. Orders requiring face masks, social distancing and customer limits remain in place.

Retailers see better sales in their future, with 63% predicting they’ll continue to rise in the next three months. But 27% said they expect a sales decline, and 10% don’t think things will change. That results in a 66 Index rating, reflecting retailers’ optimism for the summer.

“If we can continue to suppress the spread of COVID, we’re hoping this summer helps retailers bounce back from the devastating shutdown,” said William Hallan, President and CEO of Michigan Retailers Association.

Other observations:

  • Just shy of two-thirds of survey respondents offered curbside. The median response was that curbside amounted to less than 10% of normal sales volumes, noticeably missing expectations.
  • When asked what percentage of pre-pandemic or “normal” sales volume is achievable during the pandemic, retailers said 50-60% of sales.
  • May 2019 had a Retail Index rating of 46.9.

Sales tax receipts in May decreased 22.8% over May 2019 but were $15.4 million above the forecasted level. Michigan’s unemployment rate preliminarily dropped a few ticks to 21.2% from April 2020’s 22.7%. Last year, Michigan’s unemployment rate was 4.2%. In May 2020, the national unemployment rate was 13.3%.

Breakdowns of the current, three-month and regional results are below.

May performance

Retailers reporting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month (numbers in parentheses indicate May 2019 results). Survey respondents: 60.

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 30 (40) 60 (31) 10 (29) 30.0 (46.9)
Inventory 12 (34) 33 (9) 55 (57) 33.9 (54.1)
Prices 5 (18) 7 (4) 88 (78) 45.2 (52.3)
Promotions 20 (25) 27 (0) 53 (75) 45.2 (60.6)
Hiring 8 (19) 38 (9) 54 (72) 31.4 (49.0)

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 May 2019 results)

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 63 (56) 27 (12) 10 (32) 66.0 (70.2)
Inventory 37 (23) 29 (25) 34 (52) 53.9 (46.9)
Prices 24 (32) 14 (4) 62 (64) 54.8 (63.9)
Promotions 56 (26) 2 (1) 42 (73) 82.5 (64.9)
Hiring 33 (20) 13 (6) 54 (74) 58.2 (55.2)

May 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 27 (73) 55 (27) 18 (0)
West 31 (58) 53 (26) 16 (16)
Central 29 (72) 57 (14) 14 (14)
East 33 (67) 67 (33) 0 (0)
Southeast 32 (63) 68 (26) 0 (11)

*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.

Contact Us
Martin Lavelle
(313) 964-6150
E-Mail
Featured Publications
cover of special fed letter
Chicago Fed Letter
Having trouble accessing something on this page? Please send us an email and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 230 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413, USA. Tel. (312) 322-5322

Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

Please review our Privacy Policy | Legal Notices