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Last Updated: 07/25/19

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.

Retailers report slower sales in June

Retailers reported another dip in sales in June 2019, but retailers across the state remain optimistic sales will be on the upswing in the upcoming months.

The monthly Retail Index survey came in at 42.1, a dip from June 2018’s 46.1. May 2019’s survey came in at 46.9. 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 June survey showed that 38 percent of respondents reported sales increases over May. Forty-six percent of retailers recorded declines and 16 percent reported no change.

The Retail Index shows that 45 percent of Michigan retailers expect increased sales through September, while 14 percent predict a decrease; 41 percent expect no change. That results in an adjusted outlook index of 64.3 – a solid number as businesses head towards early fall.

“The good news is that we’re heading into the back-to-school shopping season, typically a strong time for our retailers,” said James P. Hallan, MRA President and CEO. “In fact, the strongest day for back-to-school sales often is the last Saturday in July.”

With back-to-school supplies already lining the shelves in most stores, the National Retail Federation is forecasting a record spending year. According to the report, families with children in elementary grades through high school are expected to spend an average of $696.70. Last year the average was $684.79.

Families with college students are forecasted to spend $976.78 on average. In 2018 the average was $942.17.

The unemployment rate in Michigan remained at 4.2 percent in June 2019, while the national rate ticked up to 3.7 percent. In June 2018, Michigan’s unemployment rate was 4.0 percent.

The state Senate Fiscal Agency showed that June 2019 sales tax receipts increased 1.9 percent over June 2018. However, the sales tax receipts were $36.9 million below the forecasted amount. Fiscal year-to-date sales tax collections were 2.7 percent above the 2017-18 amounts through June 2019.

June performance

Retailers reporting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month (numbers in parentheses indicate June 2018 results). Survey respondents: 70.

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 38 (49) 46 (43) 16 (8) 42.1 (46.1)
Inventory 33 (32) 21 (29) 46 (39) 51.9 (46.9)
Prices 14 (15) 12 (5) 74 (80) 50.0 (53.0)
Promotions 26 (18) 1 (2) 73 (80) 62.2 (59.2)
Hiring 11 (17) 10 (8) 79 (75) 46.6 (49.7)

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 June 2018 results)

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 45 (62) 14 (6) 41 (32) 64.3 (74.2)
Inventory 24 (30) 36 (25) 40 (45) 49.0 (53.7)
Prices 23 (20) 13 (5) 64 (75) 58.5 (59.3)
Promotions 30 (28) 0 (2) 70 (70) 68.6 (66.0)
Hiring 16 (16) 8 (12) 76 (72) 55.4 (52.1)

June 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 33 (50) 42 (8) 25 (42)
West 28 (29) 43 (14) 29 (57)
Central 33 (50) 67 (17) 0 (33)
East 43 (57) 57 (14) 0 (29)
Southeast 50 (52) 41 (19) 9 (29)

*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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