NMG Index Bumps Up a Half-Point in July

Written by Rob Stott

July 2, 2021

NMG index

Independent retailers closed out the first full year of the Nationwide Marketing Group Independent Retail Confidence Index by pushing the confidence needle up half a point in July. Overall, the July NMG Index checked in at 195.905 (69.72% confident), up from 195.48 in June (69.57%).

With a year’s worth of data under its best, we can now look at some year-long averages for the NMG Index. Over the past 12 months, the channel averaged a confidence score of 192.78 or 68.6% confident. The high point of the year came in April when the NMG Index hit a score of 204.89 (72.92%). On the other end of the spectrum, January was the low point of the year for the channel with a confidence score of 183.301 (65.5%). Based on those numbers, the NMG Index finished the year on a five-month streak with results that bested the annual average.

Looking at the breakdown by primary store type — Appliance, Bedding, Consumer Electronics and Furniture — each category followed along relatively in step with the year-long trend of the NMG Index, with some variances.

As for the annual average per category, Consumer Electronics stores set the pace for independent retailers, averaging a confidence score of 197.25 for the inaugural year of the NMG Index. The other three categories finished year one within half a point of each other, Appliances at 191.99, Bedding with 191.49 and Furniture at 191.93.

In a typical confidence report, entering a year two would mean having some foresight into what we might expect for a given month. Benchmarks would have been set in that first year. However, we know that the past 18 months have been anything but ordinary. So, as the first year-over-year numbers begin to trickle in for the NMG Index, we’ll still be learning a lot about the independent retail channel and what impacts their confidence.

Based on feedback from retailers in the July report, our anticipating for the summer and early fall months is that confidence will remain above the baseline set over the past year. Retailers continue to report strong foot traffic in their stores and a willingness by consumers to spend. Of course, product availability continues to be a challenge, which leads to the uncertainty and uneasiness that prevents the NMG Index from creeping higher.

On the traffic side of things, retailers remain confident in their ability to push foot traffic into their stores, though the number dropped roughly 0.1 points to 7.31 in July. Their confidence to drive online traffic fell 0.15 points in July to 5.7.

Products Finish Year 1 Strong

Diving deeper into the individual product categories, July was another strong month for the independent retailer. Of the 18 categories the NMG Index surveys for, 15 finished above their lifetime averages.

In fact, July ended up in a tie with April 2021 as the strongest month on record for product performance. The average score for the month across the 18 product categories was 6.95, up a little over 0.2 points above the lifetime average score.

Lumped into their larger category buckets, we get an interesting picture of how the different categories of products stack up. Bedding products hold the top spot as the strongest-performing category, followed closely by Appliances and Furniture.

Lastly on products, here’s a look at how the averages stack up across the 18 categories for the first year of the NMG Index.

Sales Remain Strong

May saw another strong month of sales goal performance for the independent retail channel. Over 77% of Nationwide dealers reported surpassing their monthly sales goals for the month, with another 11% meeting their goals.

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