LANSING – A monthly activity index compiled by the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Detroit branch registered 72.5 for January, a sizable increase from the 42.1 a year earlier, and a sign that the retail environment is improving.

The increase was attributed to the weather and high consumer confidence. January’s reading also came as an improvement over the 60.0 for December.

In the monthly survey by the MRA, 44 percent of responding retailers reported January sales increases over December and 38 percent said their sales declined. The remaining 18 percent reported no change.

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