Published in Small Business

Survey shows downward trend for retailers in May but optimism this summer

BY Friday, June 26, 2020 10:41am

Michigan retail sales remained in the “tank” during May as many stores remained closed, although a monthly survey and activity index suggest a rebound this summer after reopening.

The activity index from the Michigan Retailers Association and the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago registered 30 for May, up from 10.8 in April but still well off the 46.9 a year earlier. An index above 50 “generally indicates positive activity,” according to the retailers group.

MRA president and CEO William Hallan COURTESY PHOTO

Six in 10 respondents to the May survey said they recorded a monthly sales decline amid the COVID-19 pandemic and state stay-home orders. Three in 10 reported sales increases, and the remaining 10 percent had no change.

The survey results came after retail stores in the Upper Peninsula began reopening May 22. Other regions of the state remained closed until May 26, and then only for limited capacity and by appointment. Retailers were allowed to fully reopen June 4 under a state order requiring face masks, social distancing and limits on customers in the store.

“If we can continue to suppress the spread of COVID, we’re hoping this summer helps retailers bounce back from the devastating shutdown,” MRA president and CEO William Hallan said in a statement.

Among survey respondents, 63 percent predicted sales would continue to increase in the next three months, and 27 percent said they expect a sales decline. The MRA said the outlooks resulted in a 66 Index rating, “reflecting retailers’ optimism for the summer.”

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