Lack of quality inventory results in modest activity
Both the national and regional economies continue to see modest but positive growth throughout the fi rst quarter of 2018, as predicted. West Michigan unemployment rates have increased since the end of 2017, however remain at very healthy levels. The Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 4 percent, very much in-line with the national average. While some economists believe we are nearing the twilight stages of the current economic recovery, which is the second longest in history, consumer confidence is at an all-time high. Early in the first quarter, the consumer confidence index peaked at 130.0, compared 111.0 in the first quarter of 2017. Similar to overall employment, the trend is showing that this has hit a ceiling, having backed up slightly to end the quarter. The same can be said for total retail jobs in the state. After reaching a post-recession high of 473,200 jobs at the end of 2016, we saw that figure drop by 200 jobs at the end of 2017.
Despite retail store closings dominating much of the headlines, the 2017 holiday season spending was the highest since 2011. U.S. holiday retail sales rose 4.9 percent compared to the same time period a year ago, while online shopping rose 18.1 percent, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. That being said, brick-and-mortar sales accounted for 88.5 percent of all purchases.
Click here for the full 2018 Q1 West Michigan Retail Market Report