Michigan Retailers Reflect Optimism for Holiday Shopping Season

Despite an overall sales decrease in October from the September numbers, Michigan retailers are optimistic as the holiday shopping season is about to get underway in earnest. That’s the latest from the Michigan Retailers Association’s newest survey.

The October Retail Index survey came in at 52.4, down from September’s 63.7. Forty-eight percent of Michigan retailers reported an increase in sales over September, while 39-percent reported a sales decline and 13-percent essentially saw no change. The seasonally adjusted performance index is conducted by the Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch.

The 100-point index provides a snapshot of the state’s overall retail industry. Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity, and the higher the number, the stronger the activity.

Forty-five percent of retailers predict their sales will continue to rise through January, but 37-perent said they expect a sales decline, and 18-percent don’t think things will change much at all. That results in a 58.1 Index rating going forward.

Bill Hallan, President and CEO of Michigan Retailers Association, says, “We’re seeing sales rise nationwide as the holidays approach, but with another statewide order restricting in-person dining and entertainment venues, Michigan business owners face more hardships.” He adds, “Retailers have proven repeatedly that they provide safe environments to shop. We are urging Michiganders to shop locally and keep their dollars in Michigan this holiday season.”

According to the National Retail Federation, nationwide sales in October were up 0.3-percent seasonally adjusted from September and up 5.7-percent year-over-year. The uptick is a result of consumers starting to shop for the holidays earlier than usual.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay reports, “Consumers have proven their resilience and willingness to spend as we head into the heart of the holiday season, and retailers are responding with deep discounts, robust inventory, and great experiences in-store and online.” Shay adds,  “Retailers continue to demonstrate their commitment and ability to ensure safe shopping environments for their customers and their associates.”

At $782.1 million, Michigan sales tax receipts in October of 2020 increased 8.9-percent over October of 2019.

Michigan’s unemployment rate preliminarily came in at 5.5-percent, a strong upswing from September’s 8.6-percent. Last year, Michigan’s unemployment rate was 3.9-percent. In October 2020, the national unemployment rate dropped to 6.9-percent compared to September’s 7.9-percent.


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