michigan retailers association

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The brutal winter weather is taking a toll on Michigan retailers.

A major ice storm just before Christmas resulted in poor overall holiday season sales for many Michigan stores.

The brutally cold January that followed was just as bad, according to a new report by the Michigan Retailers Association, which says 46% of retailers report their sales were down last month, compared to January 2013. Only 30% said their cash registers were busier.

The gloom created by slow sales may carry over into the rest of the year.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report shows the major winter storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders last month also hurt late Christmas sales.

About a half million Michiganders spent part of Christmas week in the dark after an ice storm cut a swath through the state.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.  He says the Dec. 22 storm robbed many stores of last-minute Christmas shoppers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Today hordes of last-minute Christmas shoppers hit Michigan stores frantically shopping for the perfect present, or at least the best still available.

The checkout lines, all two dozen of them, at a Meijer in Jackson were at least three shoppers deep around noon.

Jeff Bycraft was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping with his fiancé.

“Running a little bit behind this year, but we’re going to get it all done today. You have to,” says Bycraft.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan retailers are less optimistic about this year’s holiday shopping season.

A survey by the Michigan Retailers Association finds a little more than half of its members expect their sales will be better this year.

The Michigan Retailers Index predicts about a 1.3% increase this year, that’s well below the national forecast.

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Michigan lawmakers are looking at how to get online retailers to collect state sales taxes.

Currently, shoppers are supposed to report any sales taxes they owe on online purchases, and pay them with their income tax.

But most people don’t.

State Representative Eileen Kowall’s bill would put the responsibility on the online retailer.   She’s quick to say this is not a tax increase, just making sure that the taxes that are owed are being paid.

Kowall says the current system puts Michigan’s ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers at an unfair disadvantage.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan retailers are checking their holiday shopping receipts.   

The longer than normal holiday shopping season wraps up amid predictions that sales have not been quite as good as expected.

"We’ve noticed it’s been a little more spread out than usual," Peggy Hayes is the marketing director for the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, the largest shopping mall in Michigan,  "Often times, people wait until the last minute…but we’re found it’s been spread out…over the holiday season this year.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The holiday shopping season is expected to wrap up in a big way this weekend in Michigan.

This has been a longer than normal holiday shopping season with five full weekends separating Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association. He says stores have seen their business rise and fall during the past month. Scott says the unevenness of the holiday shopping season can be blamed in part on its length.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Not everyone shopping in Michigan stores this weekend plans to buy.

Some plan to steal.

The hectic nature of the holiday shopping season makes it easier for shoplifters.

Individual shoplifters have always been a headache for Michigan store owners.   But Tom Scott with the Michigan Retailers Association says now store owners are having to deal with organized gangs of shoplifters…

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A Comerica Bank economist says Michigan's economy is making a comeback.   But clouds could be on the horizon.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan retailers are becoming more concerned about the impact rising gasoline prices will have on sales.

Michigan’s average gas price leaped over four dollars a gallon this week.

The Michigan Retailers Association released a survey Wednesday showing lower sales projections over the next three months.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.   He says rising gas prices will force retailers to spend more to ship their products and discourage customers from coming into their stores.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 The next phase of the holiday shopping season will start Monday with 'After Christmas' sales.  

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.    He says most retailers will offer some extra incentives to get customers into their stores, especially ones who got ‘gift cards’ as presents.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 This is turning into a very merry holiday shopping season for Michigan retailers.   

 The hard numbers are still coming in, but it appears early optimism for a strong Christmas shopping season is panning out.   

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A new survey finds Michigan retailers are growing more optimistic that they will see their sales improve over the next three months.    

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.   He says the survey’s results are the most optimistic state retailers have been about the economy since the end of last year.

 "I think we’re scratching our heads a little bit over why there’s so much optimism out there…given the mixed economic news we’ve been getting. "

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan retailers say 4 dollar a gallon gasoline is taking a bite out of their business.  The latest survey by the Michigan Retailers Association says state businesses saw a marked decline in sales in March, as gasoline prices started to soar.    Michigan retail sales slumped to their lowest level since last July. 

Tom Scott is with the association.  

Rising gasoline prices threaten to take some of the optimism out of a rosy new forecast for retail sales in Michigan.  A recent survey of Michigan retailers finds 76% expect to see their sales improve this spring. 

  Good holiday sales are lifting many business owners expectations for the year ahead. 

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retail Association. Scott says the survey was taken before gasoline prices spiked this week.   He says high gas prices could be a problem for retailers.

 “But the bigger concern, more than just their own delivery trucks, is generally the effect on consumers.  And of course, every dollar a consumer puts in his or her gas tank is a dollar that can’t be spent at the store.”

Scott says a few years ago when gas prices reached four dollars a gallon, retail sales dried up.  But he says pent up consumer demand may keep the customers coming, even with high gas prices.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It’s not Christmas yet, but Michigan retailers are in the holiday spirit. There are signs this will be the best holiday shopping season in Michigan in many years. 

When the holiday shopping season was getting started a month ago, a survey showed a majority of Michigan retailers were optimistic that they would see increased sales compared to last Christmas. The latest data is backing up that optimism.