Lansing, MI (PRWEB) December 23, 2013
With only one day left in the traditional holiday shopping season, there appear to be more questions than answers about how the season will end up.
The biggest question is how much of an effect this past weekend’s weather will have on the total season, according to James P. Hallan, Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) president and CEO.
“The ice storm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of shoppers, as well as some retailers, during what should have been the busiest weekend of the season,” Hallan said. “Will sales lost to the weather be made up in time? Will they be pushed past Christmas or even into the new year? We’re waiting to find out.”
Retailers already were dealing with a compressed shopping season because of the calendar. This year’s season was the shortest possible, six days and one full weekend less than last year’s. MRA members’ earlier holiday forecasts showed cautious optimism, averaging a modest 1.3 percent gain over last year.
The latest Michigan Retail Index showed November sales were sluggish after a good October. The Index, a joint project of MRA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, found that 35 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 42 percent recorded declines and 23 percent saw no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 46.7, down from 54.8 in October.
The Index gauges the performance of the state’s overall retail industry, based on monthly surveys conducted by MRA and the Federal Reserve. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity; the higher the number, the stronger the activity.
Looking forward, 30 percent of retailers expect sales during December–February to increase over the same period last year, while 23 percent project a decrease and 47 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 58.4, down from 64.3 in October.
Note: William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, can be reached at 312.322.8151.