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Last Updated: 11/22/23

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.

Michigan Retailers’ October Sales Fall Over September

Retailers’ 3-month outlook optimism grows as owners look toward 2024.

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Retailers Association today reports that October 2023 sales fell from September, landing at 43.1 on the 100-point Retail Index, a drop from September’s 47.6. Last October, the Retail Index came in at 48.9, which had also dropped from a strong 61.5 in September 2022, ahead of the holiday season.

Forty-four percent (44%) noted an increase over September sales, fifty-three percent (53%) of Michigan retailers surveyed reported a sales decrease and 3% reported no change.

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 seasonally adjusted performance Index is conducted by Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch.

“A decrease in sales leading up to the holidays can go one of two ways. We hope November and December go the more positive route with consumers spending their dollars on gifts at local retailers," said William J. Hallan, President and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association. “We encourage Michigan shoppers to focus their spending at Michigan stores during this important shopping week and through the December holidays. Each purchase at a local business keeps those shopping dollars here, where they matter most.”

Three-Month Optimism Rises

On a more positive note, fifty-four percent (54%) of retailers predict their sales will continue to rise through January, and 34% said they expect their sales to decline. Twelve percent (12%) anticipate no change. That results in a 62.7 Index rating, a hefty increase from last month’s prediction Index rating of 53.3, but a year-over-year drop from 65.0 in 2022.

NRF Predicts Record Holiday Spending

The National Retail Federation announced their anticipated holiday season shopping data, with an expected increase by 3- to 4% year-over-year. Total spending in November and December is expected to reach somewhere between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.

Unemployment Rates

The national unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.9% over September’s 3.8%. Last year, the national unemployment rate was 3.7%. The unemployment rate for Michigan preliminarily came in at 4.1% for October. Last year, the unemployment rate was 4.4%. Consumers celebrating the holidays will spend $875 on average for gifts, decor, food, and other winter holiday items. That number is up from $833 in 2022.

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

October performance

Retailers reporting increased, decreased, or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month, along with October 2023 results.
Survey responses: 36

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
2023 2022 2023 2022 2023 2022 2023 2022
Sales 44 45 53 39 3 16 43.1 48.9
Inventory 42 63 16 16 42 21 53.7 63.0
Prices 25 42 8 11 67 47 59.0 63.8
Promotions 2324 11 8 66 68 54.9 57.2
Hiring 11 8 11 21 78 71 46.5 38.6

Outlook for the next three months

Retailers expecting increased, decreased, or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month, along with October 2023 results.

% Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
2023 2022 2023 2022 2023 2022 2023 2022
Sales 54 45 34 26 12 29 62.7 65.0
Inventory 19 26 56 50 25 24 42.0 48.0
Prices 22 39 17 21 61 40 57.9 61.4
Promotions 39 45 5 2 56 53 65.3 73.2
Hiring 17 13 19 21 64 66 51.347.2

October sales performance and outlook for the next three months, by region

The first number indicates sales performance for the month; number in parentheses indicates outlook for the next three months.

% Increased % Decreased % No Change
Current 3-Month Current 3-Month Current 3-Month
North 173383 67 00
West 465545 36 99
Central 808020 0020
East 023 100 75 750
Southeast 56 75 44 12 0 13

*Seasonally adjusted diffusion index. A diffusion index, the sum of the % of respondents indicating increase and half the % 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. Values below 50 indicate a decrease.

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