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Michigan retail sales fall below expectations in July

pile of one dollar bills
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Thirty-eight percent of the state's retailers reported a decrease in sales from June to July.

Michigan retail sales for July mark the state's lowest since December, according to a Michigan Retailers Association report released Wednesday.

Thirty-eight percent of the state's retailers reported a decrease in sales from June to July. 43% of those surveyed reported an increase, and 19% reported no change.

“The year of rollercoaster sales continues for Michigan’s retailers,” William J. Hallan, President and CEO of the Michigan Retailers Association, said in a news release. He said the dip signals a potential economic imbalance.

Andrea Bitely is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the MRA. She said a roller coaster sales year like this one makes it incredibly hard to predict what the future looks like.

"We have had a really tough time as retailers to make sure that we are staffing and stocking and planning properly," Bitely said, "Because there is a lot that goes into making sure that goods are available in retail outlets and that planning takes place a year in advance in many cases."

A.J. Davidson is the president of Bivouac, a retailer in Ann Arbor that sells clothing and gear.

Davidson said that while supply and staffing shortages have been an issue over the past year, recently he's seen improvements.

"We've been getting more and more applicants than we did over the past three or four years since COVID," Davidson said.

According to the MRA report, the unemployment rate for Michigan preliminarily remained at 3.6% from June, down from 4.1% at the same time last year.

Davidson also said travel business has gone up exponentially this year for his store.

“I feel like this is the first year where people are actually now getting back to traveling internationally and, you know, taking more trips,” Davidson said.

Bitely said Michigan residents didn't do as much in-state travel this year as expected.

“Normally in July, we see a tourism surge.”

Bitely said she's hopeful that they'll see that surge in August.

She's not the only one who's optimistic. Nearly 55% of the association's retail members predict their sales will rise through October.

Bitely said if Michigan residents redirect one in ten of their purchases to a local retailer, that could bring in about $2.2 billion in additional economic activity to the state in a year.

"That's a huge increase," Bitely said. "It would mean about 5,000 new jobs for non-store employees. And we could bring in billions of tax dollars to our state and really make a big difference in our economy."

Caoilinn Goss is the producer for Morning Edition. She started at Michigan Public during the summer of 2023.
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