Michigan retailers recorded a small improvement in business during July, as warm weather drew shoppers into stores and consumers began shopping for the new school year.
The monthly index from the Michigan Retailers Association and the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago registered 54.7 for July, up slightly from the 53.5 in June. The July increase in the retail index followed a wet and cool spring and early summer that put a damper on retail sales.
MRA President and CEO James Hallan expects the August retail index, when issued in a month, to show another increase from sales ahead of the new school year.
“Many parents start back-to-school shopping in July, but August will benefit from those sales as well,” Hallan said.
Half of the respondents to the Michigan Retailers Association’s monthly survey for July reported higher sales over June. Another 37 percent reported a decline and 13 percent said their sales were unchanged.
Among survey respondents, 55 percent expect increased sales through October and 19 percent anticipate a decrease. The remaining 26 percent expect no change. The survey results led to an adjusted outlook index of 70.0, which the MRA described as “a positive sign as businesses prepare for the holiday season.”
Nationally, the National Retail Federation this month reported that U.S. retail sales increased an adjusted 0.9 percent in July from June and an unadjusted 5.6 percent over a year earlier.
The July results “are consistent with a confident consumer,” said National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
“Households are in good shape with spending and that should continue as long as the labor market remains healthy,” Kleinhenz said. “But it’s important to remember that today’s data is looking backward at what was happening a month ago. The impact of volatile financial markets and increased trade tensions in recent weeks may put a wind of caution in consumer spending as we move forward in 2019.”