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NRF survey: Retailers proceeding with caution

WASHINGTON , D.C. — With a stronger-than-expected holiday season under their belts, retail executives are looking to the new year with a little more caution, according to the results of the January NRF Retail Executive Opinion Survey.

The Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) for January posted a “normal” reading of 50.3, 1.6 points lower than the prior month and 14.8 points lower than the same period one year ago, though nowhere near the 31.7 reading from 2003. (The RSPI measures retail executives' evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, average transaction per customer, employment, inventories and a six-month-ahead sales outlook expectation. The RSPI is based on a scale of 0-100, with 50 equaling normal.)

While the January pricing index showed a slight uptick from the previous month (25 points for January versus 22.9 points for December), it was still well below the same period one year ago (41.7).

The Current Demand Index, which includes sales, average transaction and customer traffic, decreased for a third straight month, posting a below-average reading of 45.4. The January Current Demand Index was 1.8 points lower than the previous month and 22.7 points lower than a year ago.

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