MI Retailers Report June Increases, Predict See-Saw Ahead

Citing “a measured upswing,” the Michigan Association of Retailers is reporting that June retail sales across the Great Lakes State saw some gains over the month of May as many stores were finally allowed to re-open to the consuming public.

The June Retail Index survey came in at 53.5, a jump from May’s 30.0. 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 year ago, June of 2019 had a Retail Index rating of 42.1, but at that time the MRA says, “Retailers were dealing with a very rainy spring that dampened tourism and sales overall,” in the year ago period.

The 100-point index provides a snapshot of the state’s overall retail industry, with index values above 50 generally indicative of positive activity, with the note that essentially, the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

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The June survey showed that more than half of Michigan’s retail community, 55-percent, recorded increases over May. Forty-two percent of respondents reported sales declines and 3-percent reported virtually no change.

Northern Michigan stores were allowed to reopen for the Memorial Day weekend, while the rest of the state reopened on June 4th.

Looking to the future, retailers in Michigan are predicting their three-month outlooks to be about the same as now. Forty-two percent predict they’ll continue to rise in the next three months, but 37-percent say they expect a sales decline, and 21-percent don’t think things will change much at all. That results in a 53.3 Index rating, just a tick under last month’s number.

Bill Hallan, President and CEO of Michigan Retailers Association, predicts, “Retail activity is bound to be a see-saw for the next few months due to the pandemic,” and adds, “Back-to-school sales typically give many stores a boost at this time of year, but with the uncertainty of in-classroom teaching and with parents stocking up on other items for distance learning, we’ll have to wait and see how retail is affected.”

Sales tax receipts in June of 2020 decreased 7.2-percent over May of 2019 but were $53.2 million above the forecast level. Michigan’s unemployment rate preliminarily dropped to 14.8-percent from May of 2020’s 21.3-percent. Last year, Michigan’s unemployment rate was 4.2-percent. In June of 2020, the national unemployment rate stood at 11.1-percent.