Retail sales and outlook slip after bleak August

 Michigan retailers tempered their fall sales projections after August sales grew -at a much slower pace, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

While there were more retailers reporting sales increases than decreases in August, the spread narrowed from July and from a year ago August. Retailers’ forecasts for the next three months followed suit.
 
“We’re back to the roller-coaster pattern of strong sales one month and a falloff the next,”  said James P. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. “It’s hard to achieve consistency in this economy, especially when the state unemployment rate has risen the past three months and is back up to 9 percent.”
 
The August Michigan Retail Index found that 47 percent of retailers increased sales over the same month last year, while 39 percent recorded declines and 14 percent saw no change.  The results create a seasonally adjusted performance index of 52.8, down from 63.9 in July. A year ago August it was 61.7.
 
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, 56 percent of retailers expect sales during September–November to increase over the same period last year, while 15 percent project a decrease and 29 percent no change. That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 70.3, down from 82.0 in July. A year ago August, it stood at 67.7.
 
At the national level, August retail sales excluding autos, gasoline and building materials rose only 0.2 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Consumer confidence 

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