Michigan retailers report they had sluggish sales last month, the result of a slowing economy and other factors such as the six-week strike against General Motors.
Results from a monthly survey by the Michigan Retailers Association also indicate that members expect a “slightly slower” holiday shopping season, although “sales will still be robust compared to earlier in the decade.
Michigan Retailers Association President and CEO James Hallan cites Michigan’s low unemployment rate of 4.1 percent in October as “a good sign that people will feel free to spend for the holidays.”
“Although the October survey numbers are behind the national trend, shoppers are in a good place to spend this holiday season,” Hallan said.
The association’s monthly Retail Index registered 43.0 for October, up slightly from 42.7 in September and well off the reading of 62.9 in October 2018, according to results from the monthly survey conducted with the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
A little more than one-third of respondents reported sales increases in October from September, and 44 percent reported lower sales. The remaining 22 percent reported that sales for the month were unchanged.
The GM strike has made many retailers cautious about predictions for 2019 holiday sales, according to the MRA.
Looking ahead, 47 percent of respondents expect increased sales through January, 32 percent predict a decrease, and 21 percent expect no change, resulting in an outlook index of 61.1, according to the association.
Across the U.S., the National Retail Federation predicts that consumers will spend between $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion on holiday sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. Consumers on average expect to spend $1,047 on holiday purchases, a 4-percent increase from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation.