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Data & Analysis

Business Contact Surveys: Retail

February 2012

The District Retail Survey indicates increased retail activity in December.

  • The District Retail Survey revealed a pickup in retail activity in December. Measures of sales and store traffic increased month over month. Nearly two-thirds of firms experienced higher sales, and more than half said store traffic was up compared to the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, sales were up and traffic was mostly unchanged.
  • Most participants reported year-over-year growth in holiday sales. Sixty-three percent of district retailers reported higher holiday sales while 33 percent experienced worse holiday sales than last year. Four percent indicated no change.
  • The majority of retailers reported that inventories were up slightly or unchanged in December. Almost one-third of retailers said current inventory levels are too high.
  • Prices pressures appear normal. Net of those decreasing prices, 46 percent of district retailers reported raising prices over the past year. Most retailers report their labor costs have risen between 1 and 4 percent over the past year. Eighteen percent experienced a 3 to 4 percent rise and 55 percent experienced a 1 to 3 percent rise in labor costs.
  • In the comments section, a few retailers indicated that difficulty obtaining credit is impacting their businesses.

Note: +1 = Increase 0 = No change –1 = Decrease

Note: December survey results are based on responses from 24 retailers collected January 3—11.
The retail survey's diffusion index is calculated as the percentage of total respondents reporting increases minus the percentage reporting declines. Positive values in the index indicate increased activity while negative values indicate decreased activity.