Market Overview

March sales up after rough February according to Michigan Retailers Association


LANSING, Mich., April 23, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Michigan took a leap in the right direction, with a large increase in retail sales in March, according to the latest Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Detroit branch.

The Michigan Retail Index's March survey found that 60 percent of respondents reported sales increases over February, 30 percent recorded declines and 10 percent reported no change. The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 64.3, a large increase from the 42.2 performance index reported in February. A year ago, the Retail Index was 57.4.

Michigan beat the national numbers, which grew by 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over February.

"It's good to see that consumer confidence won out over Michigan's unseasonable weather in March," said James P. Hallan, President and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association.

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.

All expectation indicators remain strong, as stores gear up for warmer temperatures and heavier foot traffic.

The Retail Index shows that 76 percent of Michigan retailers expect strong sales through May, while 10 percent predict a decrease and 17 percent expect no change. That raises the seasonally adjusted outlook index to 76.9 – a sign of optimism for a fruitful spring, according to the Retail Index survey.

Michigan's seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped by 0.1 percentage point to 4.7 percent in March. The jobless rate was 0.1 percentage point over the March 2017 rate of 4.6 percent. It was also 0.6 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate for March.

Survey responders who expect sales to increase in the next three months were asked why they're optimistic. Sixty-seven percent say expected seasonal patterns are the result and 11 percent believe a strong economy will lead to stronger sales.

Note: William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, can be reached at 312.322.8151.

Michigan Retail Index
March 2018 results

March performance  
Retailers reporting increased, decreased or unchanged sales, inventory, prices, promotions and hiring compared to last month (numbers in parentheses indicate February results). Survey respondents: 67.

  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index* 
Sales 60   (37)  30   (53)  10   (10)  64.3   (42.2) 
Inventory 46   (30)  18   (26)  36   (44)  61.2   (57.4) 
Prices 13   (11)    3   (12)  84   (77)  55.8   (50.9) 
Promotions 21   (18)    7     (7)    72   (75)  57.5   (54.8) 
Hiring 15   (14)    4   (12)  81   (74)  56.0   (52.1) 

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 February results)

  % Increased % Decreased % No Change Index*
Sales 73    (80)  10      (9)  17    (11)  76.9   (75.8) 
Inventory 45    (55)  13    (14)  42    (31)  57.0   (57.9) 
Prices 36    (35)    2      (3)    62    (62)  63.7   (63.0) 
Promotions 46    (62)    2      (3)    52    (35)  69.8   (73.8) 
Hiring 25    (30)      0      (3)  75    (67)  56.9   (56.6) 

March 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 40    (50) 50    (30) 10    (20)
West 56    (67) 25      (0) 19    (33)
Central 55    (100) 36      (0)   9      (0)
East 71    (57) 29    (14)   0    (29)
Southeast 67    (76) 24    (14)   9    (10)

*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: Meegan Holland

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