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January surprisingly good month for Michigan retailers


Michigan retailers reported higher-than-expected sales in January.

The Michigan Retailers Association's monthly survey of sales activity showed it was an above-average month.

The association assembles the results from the survey into a 100-point index that "provides a snapshot of the state’s overall retail industry," the association explained. "Index values above 50 generally indicate positive activity, the higher the number, the stronger the activity.”

January came in at 53.8 points, putting both above average and indicating a big jump from December’s 41.2 points.

Retail association vice president Andrea Bitely said the industry is still recovering from the pandemic. Retailers rely on holiday shopping profits to keep them going the other 10 months of the year, Bitely said — but this past December was a bust for many businesses.

Bitely blamed poor weather and consumer worries over inflation, but she also said the slow December was one reason January got a boost.

Bitely said families rescheduled their holiday gatherings for January, and inflation has begun to level out. “We also saw a mild-weather January, which saw people out and about a bit more, hitting those local retail stores,” she said.

“We were surprised to see the positivity in this survey. Generally speaking, January, February, March are tough months for retail,” said Bitely.

The survey also found that most Michigan shopkeepers think sales numbers will keep rising through April.

Katheryne Friske is the weekend morning host and producer for All Things Considered.
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