Study: More retailers report sales increases in May; optimism rises, too

Posted on June 27, 2011

Strong retail sales from April continued into May, with local retailers growing in optimism, according to a statewide study.

Of the retailers in Southeast Michigan who were surveyed, 65 percent reported increased sales in May compared with April, and 50 percent expect stronger performance in the next three months, according to the Michigan Retail Index survey, conducted by the Lansing-based Michigan Retailers Association and theFederal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The increase shows improvement over April, when 52 percent of retailers reported stronger sales.

Statewide, 53 percent of retailers reported increased sales in May, and 42 percent expect increases in the next three months.

“May was a virtual replay of April and sustained that month’s sales gains,” said James Hallan, president and CEO of the Retailers Association. “Sales remained steady and didn’t fall back to their March level.

“Retailers remain cautious about the economy and the lack of new jobs, but falling gasoline prices should help bolster consumer spending and retailers’ optimism.”

The state’s unemployment rate rose 0.1 percent in May to 10.3 percent, the report pointed out.

The Michigan Retail Index for May created a seasonally adjusted performance index of 53.5, up from 53.1 in April and 42.9 in March.

Index values above 50 generally indicate an increase in overall retail activity.

Looking forward, 42 percent of retailers expect sales during June through August to increase over the same period last year, while 16 percent project a decrease and 42 percent no change.

That puts the seasonally adjusted outlook index at 60.5, down slightly from 60.9 in April and 63.8 in March.