Published in Small Business

Michigan retailers report ‘dismal’ March activity

BY Thursday, April 23, 2020 02:02pm

Nearly nine in 10 Michigan retailers say their sales declined in March, and about three-quarters expect further decreases over the next three months.

Based on a monthly survey, today’s report from the Michigan Retailers Association offers further data on the extent of the economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stay-home orders.

Michigan Retailers Association president and CEO William Hallan COURTESY PHOTO

The March survey generated a “dismal” monthly activity index of 11.6, the lowest ever, according to Martin Lavelle, a business economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch. The March activity index compares with 66.6 in February and 42.6 a year earlier.

“We’re working with the Governor and legislators on a plan to re-open Michigan’s economy,” said Michigan Retailers Association president and CEO William Hallan. “We believe stores can re-open and sell merchandise without endangering the safety of their staff or customers, whether it’s through online orders or curbside delivery. If we wait too long, many stores simply will not survive.”

Among survey respondents, 87 percent said their sales declined in March while 9 percent reported an increase. Looking ahead, 74 percent expected lower sales through June and 20 percent projected higher sales.

Seventy-one percent reduced hiring in March. More than a quarter expect reduced hiring through June and 30 percent expected to add workers, according to the survey.

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