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MONTHLY REVIEW
o f C r e d it a n d B u s in e s s C o n d it io n s
Second Federal Reserve District
Federal Reserve Agent

Federal Reserve Bank, New York
T rade

B u s in e s s C o n d i t io n s in t h e U n i t e d S ta te s
R O D U C T IO N of basic commodities decreased d u r­
ing M arch, and there w as a recession in wholesale
prices. Distribution, both at wholesale and retail,
showed less than the usual seasonal increase and was
sm aller than a y e a r ago.

P

P roduction

The F e d e ra l Reserve B o a r d ’s index of production in
basic industries, adjusted to allow fo r length of month
and other seasonal variations, declined 3 per cent, in
M arch. O utput w as reduced b y most industries and the
decreases were p a rticu la rly large in m ill consumption
of cotton and production of bituminous coal and copper.
D a ily average production of steel ingots, however, w as
larger than in an y previous month. The level of facto ry
em ploym ent w as unchanged but some curtailm ent in
w orking hours w as evidenced b y a decline of 1 per cent,
in average weekly earnings. C on tract aw ards fo r new
buildings in M arch reached the highest total value on
record, owing chiefly to a large increase in the N ew
Y o rk district.
Estim ates b y the D epartm ent of A g ricu ltu re on the
basis of condition on A p r il 1 indicate a reduction of 4
per cent, in the yield of w inter wheat and of 6 per cent,
in the production of rye as com pared w ith the final
harvests in 19 2 3 .
PERCENT.

Index o f 22 Basic Commodities Corrected for Seasonal Variation
(1919 — 100 Per cent. Latest figure, M arch)




May 1,1924

Shipm ents of commodities b y railroads declined each
week in M arch and car loadings were 4 per cent, less
than a y e a r ago. W holesale trade increased sligh tly
du ring M arch but w as 8 per cent, less than a y e a r ago
owing to decreases in sales of drygoods, shoes, and h ard ­
ware. M arch sales of departm ent stores were 8 per cent,
less than in M arch 1 9 2 3 , and merchandise stocks at
the end of the month w ere 8 per cent, larger than a
y e a r ago. Sales of m ail order houses also showed less
than the usual seasonal increase in M arch. Decrease in
the volume of purchases at retail com pared w ith last
y ea r is p a rtly accounted fo r b y the late E a ste r and the
generally unfavorable weather conditions.
P rices

W holesale prices, as m easured b y the B u reau of L ab o r
Statistics index, decreased sligh tly more than 1 per cent,
in M arch and were 6 per cent, low er than a y e a r ago.
P rices of farm products, foods, clothing, chemicals, and
house furn ish ings declined, building m aterials rem ained
unchanged, w hile fu el and m etals w ere sligh tly higher
than in F e b ru a ry . D u rin g the first three weeks o f A p r il
quotations on p ig iron, lead, coal, silk, and su g ar de­
clined, while prices of wheat, corn, and cotton advanced.
PER CENT.

Index of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1913 = 100 Per cent.
Base Adopted by Bureau. Latest figure, March)

2

MONTHLY REVIEW, MAY 1, 1924
PER.CENT.

P illions Of oollars

Department Store Sales— Index of Sales of 333 Stores in 117
Cities (1919 = 100 Per cent. Latest figure, March)

B a n k C redit

Volum e of borrow ing fo r commercial purposes at mem­
ber banks in leading cities, a fte r increasing du rin g the
early p a rt of the year, rem ained constant at a high level
between the middle of M arch and the m iddle of A p ril.
D u rin g the fo u r week period total loans of these banks
were in larger volume than at an y time in more than
two years.
Discounts and investments of the F e d e ra l Reserve
Banks, w hich on A p r il 2 were sligh tly above $1,0 0 0 ,000,000, declined b y about $125,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 du ring the first
three weeks in A p r il to the lowest point fo r the year.
T h is decline represents a reduction in discounts and in
the holdings of acceptances, while the volume of Govern­
ment securities increased somewhat.
M oney rates in the N ew Y o rk m arket du ring the first
three weeks in A p r il were at about the same level as in
the latter p a rt of M arch. P rim e commercial p aper w as
quoted at 4 % per cent, and 90 d a y bankers acceptances
at 4 per cent, throughout the period.

B a n k in g C o n d i t io n s in t h e S e c o n d D i s t r i c t
Lo an s o f reporting member banks in this district,
made larg ely fo r commercial purposes, w hich had risen
$150,00 0,000 since Ja n u a r y 1 , declined sligh tly between
M arch 1 9 and A p r il 16 , ap p are n tly reflecting the com­
pletion of ea rly sp rin g borrowing. Loans secured b y
stocks and bonds also decreased, but these declines were
p a rtly offset b y an increase of $70,000,000 in security
investments to the highest point since last J u l y , so that
the total of all loans and investments showed only a
moderate decline.
N et demand deposits decreased approxim ately $10 0 ,000,000 from the high point reached on M arch 19 , but
this decrease w as p a rtly offset b y an increase in time
deposits to a point higher than ever before, so that the
total of all deposits on A p r il 1 6 w as the highest, ex­
cepting only M arch 19 , fo r the year.
The volume of member bank borrow ing from




the

Member Bank Credit— Weekly Figures for Member Banks in 101
Leading Cities (Latest figures April 16)

F e d e ra l Reserve B an k o f N ew Y o r k increased du rin g
the ea rly p a rt of A p r il to the highest point since
F e b ru a ry , and there w as also a substantial increase in
the holdings o f bills bought in the open m arket, due
to firm er money conditions. Fo llo w in g the reduction,
however, in the volume of com m ercial borrowing, and
large disbursements here on A p r il 1 5 b y the T re a su ry
o f interest on L ib e rty and T re a su ry bonds from fu n d s
on deposit w ith the R eserve B an k, or tran sferred from
other districts, the total earning assets of the F e d e ra l
Reserve B an k of N ew Y o r k declined b y A p r il 2 3 to
$145,0 00,0 00, or the lowest since Ja n u a r y , w ith the
exception of the ta x period in M arch.

M o n e y R a tes
M oney rates w ere gen erally steady d u rin g the first
three weeks of A p ril, but follow ing the 20th again gave
evidence of an easier tendency. B ill rates, w hich had
held at 4 per cent, fo r 90 d a y bills, declined on A p r il 2 5
to 3% per cent. The dem and w as somewhat broader and
the su p p ly considerably decreased, due to seasonal slack­
ening in the movements of cotton, silk, and other com­
modities.
Governm ent short term securities were also in de­
m and and 4 to 6 months issues were quoted a t sligh tly
above 3 per cent., or the lowest since A u g u st 19 2 2 .
The rate fo r prim e com m ercial paper rem ained 4 y2
per cent., and although N ew Y o rk banks w ere not large
buyers, there w as a good demand in the interior. The
su p p ly w as reported only moderate. D u rin g M arch the
volume of commercial p aper outstanding rose $22,000,000 to $902,000,000, the highest since Ja n u a r y 1 9 2 1 .
Tim e money rates at 4 % - 4 % per cent, were the lowest
in over a year.
C a ll loan renewals averaged around
4% to 4 y2 per cent, d u rin g the first three weeks of
the month, but on A p r il 2 5 declined to 3 % per cent.
O rd in arily in the past two years, as shown b y the ac­
com panying d ia g ram ; the changes in com m ercial bor­
rowings at banks have been accom panied b y a corre-

3

FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT AT NEW YORK
sponding movement in money rates, but this sp rin g
increases in commercial loans w ere accom panied b y a
decline in m oney rates. Th is situation ap paren tly re­
flects the large im ports of gold and liquidation of loans
on stocks and bonds.

Fre n ch and B elg ian fra n cs continued their rap id re­
covery and at 6 % and 5 % cents respectively on A p r il 2 2
were nearly 10 0 per cent, above the recent low points.
Ita lia n lire reached 4 .5 2 cents on A p r il 22, reflecting
favorable reports of Ita lia n fiscal conditions and D anish
and Spanish exchanges also recovered substantially from
their recent low points.
Jap an ese yen, on the other hand, continued to decline
and on A p r il 2 3 reached a new low point of ap pro x­
im ately 3 9 1 4 cents, as com pared w ith 49 cents p rior to
the earthquake. D u rin g M arch the im port trade balance
of Ja p a n was p ra ctica lly as large as the record im port
balance reached in F e b ru a ry .

G o ld M o v e m e n t
Im ports of gold continued du rin g M arch at the rate
o f more than a m illion dollars a day, and totaled over
$34,000,000 fo r the month. The largest amounts came
from E n glan d , Canada, F ran ce, and G erm any. E x p o r ts
were $8 17,0 0 0 to M exico, Venezuela, C anada, and H on g
K ong.

S e c u r it y M a r k e t s
The decline in industrial stock prices, which began
in F e b ru a ry and M arch, continued du rin g the first three
weeks of A p r il. The Stan d a rd Statistics C o m p a n y’s in­
dex of 202 industrial issues on A p r il 2 1 showed a loss
of over 10 points from the F e b ru a ry high level, or con­
siderably more than h a lf the advance which had p re v ­
iously occurred since the low point of 1 9 2 3 . I n the
groups o f rubber, paper, textile, shipping, and leather
and shoe stocks averages fell below the lowest points of
19 2 1.
E a ilro a d stocks, on the other hand, showed consider­
able strength in response to favorable earnings state­
ments and on A p r il 7 reached a new high point fo r
the year.
The bond m arket continued strong d u rin g A p r il, and
follow ing the middle of the month three issues of L ib e rty
bonds sold at new high prices since 19 2 2 , while the
T re a su ry 4 ^ 4 ’s at 1 0 1 2 0 / 3 2 reached a new high. H ig h
grade domestic issues also tended tow ards higher levels
and foreign issues w ere firm.
The strength of the bond m arket w as also indicated
by the read y absorption of large issues o f new securities
yielding from 4 per cent, in the case o f high grade
m unicipal and State issues to over 5 % per cent, among
corporation issues.
Included in the more im portant
issues were $45,000,000 4^4 per cent. N ew Y o rk State
bonus bonds, sold at a price to yield 4 per cent., a
$30,000,000 loan fo r the Governm ent of Sw itzerland,
and several large corporation issues.

F o r e ig n E x c h a n g e
Acceptance of the D aw es Committee report b y the
Germ an and the A llied Governm ents as a basis fo r settle­
ment of the reparations problem w as followed b y
strength in the leading E u ro p ean exchanges. Sterlin g
advanced to $4.40, approxim ately 1 1 cents above the
average of M arch and the highest since Novem ber 19 2 3 .




The follow ing table g iv in g the net im ports of gold
from various countries since Ja n u a r y 1 , 1 9 2 3 shows
large B ritish shipments in connection w ith ap pro xi­
m ately $160,000,000 a y e a r debt paym ents, and large
but dim inishing im ports fro m G erm any. T o tal net im ­
ports have risen steadily since the first q u arter last year.
(000’s omitted)
1923

1924

Country

First
Quarter

Second
Quarter

Third
Quarter

F o u rth
Quarter

First
Quarter

England.......................
Germany.....................
France..........................
Netherlands................
British India..............
China & Hong Kong

$10,718

$31,243
26,889
1,602
313
38*
1,681
4,268
109
40
6,613

$41,648
15,544
4,429
4.893
488
9
9,074
1,476
21
8,397

$63,362
7,182
6,937
2,300
823*
2,020
7,602
718
5,212
4,919

$61,972
2,881
8,517
5,917

$72,750

$85,003

$99,429

’ 3,408
5,696
13,289*
290*
26,725
427*
15
4,335

Argentina....................
Net Imports...........

$36,891

*666
16,898
798
4,487
10,830
$112,966

*Net Exports.

F o r e ig n T r a d e
The total value of both exports and im ports of m er­
chandise declined in M arch.
E x p o rts valu ed at
$341,000 ,0 00 were $25,000,000 lower than in F e b ru a ry ,
but about equal w ith the total fo r M arch a ye a r ago.
Im ports totaling $319 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 were sligh tly sm aller than
in F e b ru a ry , but otherwise the largest in nine months.
The decline in exports w as probably due chiefly to a
fu rth er seasonal decrease in cotton shipments. E x p o rts
of grains, while sligh tly larger than in the short month
of F e b ru a ry , w ere sm aller than in Ja n u a r y and 3 1 per
cent, less than in M arch 19 2 3 .
The somewhat low er total of im ports w as due in p art
to a decrease in the im ports of silk, which, at 16 ,6 9 2
bales, were the smallest in three years, and 4 1 per cent,
less than in M arch of last year. R ubber im ports also
showed a large decrease as com pared w ith F e b ru a ry ,
and were barely h a lf the total of a y e a r ago.

MONTHLY REVIEW, MAY 1, 1924
-y Q l

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COPPl
PRODUCITION

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1923 1924-

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floors
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1919 ’ m o 1921 1922 1023 1924- 0

Monthly Changes in iProduction and Prices of Basic Commodities. Production Figures are in Percentages of the
Computed Trend of Past Years which is Taken as a Base of 100

P r o d u c t io n
Fo llo w in g a large increase in the production of basic
commodities in Ja n u a r y and F e b ru a ry this b a n k ’s in­
dexes of output in m ajor industries showed, w ith few
exceptions, decreases in M arch.
M ill consumption of cotton showed a p a rticu la rly large
decline and this b a n k ’s index at 82 per cent, of the com­
puted trend of past years w as the lowest, w ith the ex­
ception of last December, since 19 2 2 . B o th woolen m ill
a ctivity and production of boots and shoes were lower
than in F e b ru a ry and below the computed trend.
M in in g of bituminous coal likewise showed a fu rth er
decrease in M arch, and in the week of A p r il 1 2 reached
a fu rth er new low point fo r the year, approxim ately
4 4 per cent, below the high rate attained in Ja n u a r y
under the threat of strike.
I n the automobile ind ustry, production continued at
a v e ry high rate, 4 per cent, higher than in F e b ru a ry
and 8 per cent, above M arch last year. These increases,
however, were sm aller than those shown in recent
months, and the indexes of passenger car and truck
output declined, although in the case of passenger cars,
at least, the index rem ained m uch above the rate of in­
crease shown in past years.
Production o f iron and steel reached a new high rate
d u rin g the early p a rt of M arch but declined towards
the close of the month, and the index of p ig iron pro­
duction w as unchanged from the F e b ru a ry figure, while
that of steel ingot output declined slightly. U nfilled
orders of the Steel Corporation were also sm aller at the
close of M arch. W h ile copper shipments d u rin g the
month were reported to have been large r than ever be­
fore, m ining failed to show the usual seasonal increase,
due to curtailm ent in some sections, and the index,
therefore, declined to 5 per cent, below the computed




trend. The index of cement production continued fa r
above the computed trend, although somewhat reduced
from the Ja n u a r y and F e b ru a ry figures.
The follow ing table gives this b a n k ’s indexes o f p ro­
duction fo r recent months as com pared w ith M arch a
year ago, and the diagram s at the top of the page show
b y months the changes in production and prices in
several m ajor commodity lines fo r recent years.
(Computed trend of past years=100 Per cent.)
1923

1924

Mar. Nov. Dec. Jan.

Feb.

Mar

95
96
105
116

82
94p
105
114

i67

i5i

Producers' Goods

Cotton consumption.............................
Woolen mill activity*...........................
Pig iron....................................................
Steel ingots.............................................
Lumber....................................................
Cement.............. ......................................
Copper, U. S. mines..............................
Zinc*..................................................
Tin deliveries..........................................
Petroleum................................................
Gas and fuel oil......................................
Leather, sole...........................................
Bituminous coal.....................................

107
118

110
114
136
146
90
85

110
127
106
106
105

96

101
90
90
136
148
107
77
150
145

91
93
84

122

92
94

153
104
81
91
131
105
83
89

94
142
75
130
116
95
93
81

90
140
83
109
96
91
79
80

106
119

119
116
104
90
75
93
151
153
145

102

95
94
94

101
137
177

111 110

72
151
133p
84
113

75

106
145
92
113
90

105
148
92
118
123
119
87
79
106
130
149
115
107
93
109
151
155
137

100
119
88
123
121
122

111

Consumers* Goods

Cattle slaughtered.................................
Calves slaughtered................................
Sheep slaughtered..................................
Hogs slaughtered...................................
Sugar meltings, U. S. ports.................
Wheat flour.............................................
Cigars.......................................................
Cigarettes................................................
Tobacco...................................................
Gasoline...................................................
Tires*...................................................
Newsprint...............................................
Paper, total.............................................
Boots and shoes.....................................
Anthracite coal......................................
Automobile, all.......................................
Automobile, passenger.........................
Automobile, truck.................................
p=Preliminary.
* = Seasonal variation not allowed for,

105

120
101
134
132

122
90
89
97

121
178
115
105
115

112

131
135
117

100
110
93
88
90
161
170
125

86

95
78
73

81
91
126
109
84
108

101
82
99
115
125
144
109

100

79
97
142
139
152

106

100
88p

96
131
138

101

FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT A T N EW Y O R K
.....

5

PERCENT.
*50j----

..

N.Y.C

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BANK
DEBI1rs

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FACFORY
EMPL<m w

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a

depy : st o r E

acmJM.ES
DDISTRICT1
jI

1919

192.0

192.1

MAILCDRDER ]
<SAILES

192%

19A3

19*4

1919

L__—

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P

1920 1921 1922 1923

\
<

1924'

Monthly Changes in Indexes of Distribution and General Business Activitjy
(Computed Trend = 100 Per cent.)

I n d e x e s o f B u s in e s s A c t i v i t y
Indexes of distribution of goods and general business
activity were lower in March than in February, after
allowance for seasonal variation and, where necessary,
for price changes. Due chiefly to a decline in the
shipments of coal, loadings of revenue freight declined
in March and the first week of April but remained above
the computed trend of past years. Loadings increased
slightly in the week ended April 12, but were 7 per cent,
lower than a year ago. Both in March and April load­
ings of merchandise remained above a year ago.
Nearly all available indexes of distribution to the
consumer showed declines in March, due in the case of
retail trade largely to the lateness of Easter and
(Computed trend of past years=100 Per cent.)

1923

1924

Mar. Nov. Dec. Jan.
Prim ary Distribution

Car loadings, mdse, and misc....................
Car loadings, other....................................
Wholesale trade, Second District.............
Exports........................................................
Imports.......................................................
Grain exports.............................................
Panama Canal traffic.................................

108

120

105
108

103
103

108
83
125
106
142

100
100

97
53
160

98
105
96

96
97
85
113
108

96
103
85

101

105
99

105

100
100
102

100
102
102

104
182
97

153
106

83

42
144

88
88

101

108
105

88
100
62
146

Feb.

Mar.

I ll
119

108
113
97
84p
102p
73p

111

95
117
64
147

Distribution to Consumer

Department store sales, Second District..
Chain store sales........................................
Mail order sales.........................................
Life insurance paid for..............................
Amusement receipts...................................
Advertising.................................................

100
101
100

General Business Activity

Bank debits, outside New York C ity.. . .
“
“
New York City....................
Postal receipts............................................
Electric power............................................
Employment, N. Y. State factories.........
Building permits........................................
Business failures.........................................




108

110

110

107

101

120

103
99
155

101

96
92
92
103
118
96

101

104

101
111

99
166
91

99

101

95
96
107

101

109
118
104
115
99

201

94

90
96
85
103
104
94

102

104
96
99
196
104

unfavorable weather conditions. The index of life in­
surance sales alone showed an increase.
Such indexes of general business activity as debits to
individual accounts at banks, both in New York City
and 140 other centers, showed decreases in March, al­
though they remained above the computed trend. The
index of postal receipts also declined in March, and
there was some increase in the proportion of firms failing
to the number in business.
W a g e s a n d E m p lo y m e n t
Wage rates for unskilled labor in the Second District
remained practically unchanged from December to April.
Reports to this bank from representative employers indi­
cate an ample supply of such labor and no discernible
tendency towards higher or lower wage rates. As shown
by the diagram on the next page the steady rise in wages
from April 1922 to June 1923 culminated at about the
same time that commodity prices turned downward, and
changes since last June have been unimportant. At the
present levels, however, wages stand close to the 1920
high point, whereas prices are far below the levels
reached at that time.
Additional railroads in this district, as well as most of
the western railroads, announced 5 per cent, increases
in the pay of various classes of skilled employees. These
were partly offset by some concessions on the part of
employees in regard to working rules.
The general level of factory employment showed vir­
tually no change during the month preceding March 15,
according to reports both from the United States and
the New York Labor Departments, although ordinarily
there is an increase of employment in March. Com­
pared with last year factory employment shows a de­
crease of 5 per cent, in New York State and of approxi­
mately 2 per cent, for the country as a whole. Employ­

MONTHLY REVIEW, MAY 1, 1924

6

ment office ratios of help wanted to registrations fo r work
indicate some increase in the demand fo r workers since
January and February, but a decrease com pared with
last year.

sion o f building
with all other
awarded, though
were 9 per cent,

The notable changes in employment by industries in
New Y ork State during the month were further in­
creases in iron and steel m ill forces, seasonal increases
in building materials trades, and a reduction in textiles,
particularly in cotton goods manufacturing.

The follow ing table com paring the changes in the
March contracts with the figures o f February this year
and o f March a year ago in the different reporting dis­
tricts, indicates in greater detail the tendencies o f build­
ing in various parts o f the country.

in the New Y ork District as com pared
reporting districts, where contracts
substantially higher than in February,
less than in March a year ago.

Total
March
Contracts

District

New York State and
Northern New Jersey............ $168,697,600
New England.............................
30,763,600
Middle Atlantic States..............
36,402,200
Southeastern States...................
46,856,900
Pittsburgh District....................
50,765,200
The Central West......................
91,245,300
The Northwest...........................
8,609,500

Per cent.
Change
from
Mar. 1923

+56
+36
+15
+44
+38
+57

+77
+16
—28
+24
— 17
+ 5
— 33

+44

+15

l +74

$433,340,300

Wages of Unskilled Labor compared with Prices of Basic Com­
modities (1913 average == 100 Per cent.)

Per cent.
Change
from
Feb. 1924

Prices o f building materials, according to the D epart­
ment o f Labor index, were unchanged in March, but
building wages continued to advance, and in consequence
the estimated cost o f construction increased slightly to
195 per cent, o f the 1913 cost, or 3 per cent, below the
high point o f a year ago.

B u ild in g
Permits fo r building construction issued during March
in 158 selected cities throughout the United States were
51 per cent, larger than in February and 11 per cent,
larger than in March 1923, heretofore the month o f the
largest total. The increase over a year ago was due
chiefly to permits issued in New Y ork City, as in all other
reporting cities there was a decrease o f 3 per cent.
The F . W . Dodge C orporation’s figures fo r contracts
awarded in 36 States also showed a large increase over
the February total and were 15 per cent, larger than
in M arch o f last year. A s in the case o f permits, the
increase occurred chiefly in the New Y ork District, where
the gain over a year ago was 77 per cent. The increase
fo r New Y ork City alone was 130 per cent. The accom­
panying diagram indicates the magnitude o f the expanMILLI0N3of
OFDOLLAR3




C h a in S t o r e S a le s
Sales by chain stores were 2 per cent, smaller in
March than in March 1923, and 4 per cent, below the
com puted trend o f past years, probably due partly to
the lateness o f Easter this year. The amount o f sales
per store also showed a decline in all types o f stores
except tobacco stores, but was particularly marked in
the cases o f grocery, candy, shoe, and drygoods stores.

Number of
Stores
Type of Store

Ten Cent..............

Mar.
1923

Mar.
1924

438
2,732
1,800
305
14,381
104
299

562
2,721
1,920
320
17,851

20,059

Per cent.
Change
in sales
per store
Mar. 1923
to
Mar. Mar. Mar. Mar. Mar.
1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 Mar. 1924
Dollar Value in Percentages

53
90
69

78
98
74
92

122

345

72
69
85

84
97

68

100
100
100
100
100
100
100

23,841

72

73

76

100

88

66

69
92
72

88

76
72

108
99
97
97
81

— 16.1
+ 1.3
— 5.6
— 5.7
— 21.9
— 17.6
— 29.4

98

— 17.2

101
101

D e p a r t m e n t S t o r e B u s in e s s
Smaller sales o f m en’s and w om en’s clothing in March,
due partly to the lateness o f Easter and unfavorable
weather conditions, were largely responsible fo r a de­
cline o f 6 per cent, in sales o f department stores in this
district com pared with March a year ago. Decreases

7

FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT A T N E W Y O R K

occurred in every reporting city except Newark and
were particularly marked in the cases of apparel stores
in this city and o f general department stores in B ridge­
port, Rochester, and Syracuse. Including all report­
ing cities, and allowing for seasonal variations and price
changes, M arch sales were 10 per cent, below the com­
puted trend o f past years, compared with 1 per cent,
below in February and 4 per cent, below in the three
preceding months.
D uring the first three weeks o f A p ril prior to Easter,
however, sales were reported by a number o f New Y ork
stores to be running considerably in excess o f those o f
the corresponding period last year.
The follow ing table shows the changes in sales in the
m ajor departments o f the stores in March compared
with March a year ago.

Per cent.
Change in
Sales over
March 1923
Furniture.................................................................
Cotton goods..........................................................
Home furnishings....................................................
Hosiery....................................................................
Women’s ready-to-wear accessories......................
Woolen goods..........................................................
Silk goods................................................................
Men’s and boys* wear............................................
Women’s and misses’ ready-to-wear.....................
Shoes........................................................................
Miscellaneous..........................................................

Per cent, of
Sales in each
Department to
Sales of all
Departments

+12.9
+12.4
+ 8.8
— 1.3
— 5.9
— 8.2
— 11.3
—12.0
— 15.0
-2 1 .7
— 0.5

6.3
4.3
15.1
3.1
16.2
2.3
5.7

6.8
11.2

3.4
25.6

Stocks o f goods on hand A p ril 1 were 5 per cent,
larger than a year ago, the same increase as was shown
on February 1 and March 1. F or the first quarter, sales
averaged 5 per cent, larger than last year, and the rate
o f stock turnover for all stores was unchanged at 3.5
times per year. The average sales check was $2.58 in
March, or 4 per cent, smaller than a year ago. The
table at the foot o f the page gives the detailed figures
on sales and stocks and shows also the turnover of stocks
during the first quarter in terms of the annual rate.
Sales by leading mail order houses were 7 per cent,
smaller in March than in March 1923. This is the first
time in almost two years that sales have fallen below
the corresponding month o f the previous year. This

bank’s index o f mail order sales, which allows fo r sea­
sonal variation and price changes, declined from 95 per
cent, o f the com puted trend in February to 85 per cent,
in March, the lowest since November.

W h o le s a le T r a d e
Wholesale trade in this district was less active during
March, and this ban k ’s weighted index o f the sales o f
163 dealers was 9 per cent, below the unusually large
sales o f March a year ago, and 3 per cent, below normal,
as determined by the trend o f sales o f past years, with
allowance fo r seasonal variation and price changes.
The decrease in sales from a year ago may be attributed
partly to lower prices and partly to the lateness o f
Easter this year. A pparel sales, in which the date of
Easter is a large factor, showed large decreases com­
pared with last year. There were also im portant de­
creases in sales o f groceries and machine tools, which
are not affected by Easter trade. Hardware sales, while
larger than a year ago, showed the smallest increase in
almost two years.
The follow ing table gives the detailed figures o f sales
in the various groups and indicates declines from a year
ago in all but stationery, hardware, and drugs. A dia­
gram on page 5 indicates the recent movements o f this
bank’s index o f wholesale trade in percentages o f the
com puted trend, after allowance fo r seasonal variation
and price changes.




72
58
67
78
58
72

99
104

96
97

101 100
88 88
90 101
104 102
102 98

104
82
115

99
94
84

1922

1923

1924

101

88

88

85
73
41
61

76
57
78
73
80
83
63
28
64

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

108
104
103
94
89
89
83
94
87
95
77
85
83
77
76

86

80

100

91

122
102

Weighted average..............................

121

100 94
100 95
86 100 96
91 100 101
85 100
90
92
90 100
76 100
81
93 100
97
83 100
88
93
74 100

89
90

1921

127

139
188
119
113
125
99
103
97
95
187
171
237

1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924
67

1920
Hardware...............................................
Drugs......................................................
Groceries.................................................
Shoes.......................................................
Dry Goods.............................................
(a) Cotton..........................................
(6) Silk...............................................
Clothing.................................................
(a) Men’s ...........................................
(6) Women’s dresses.........................
(c ) Women’s coats and suits...........
Jewelry...................................................
Machine tools........................................
Diamonds...............................................

Net Sales During March
(March 1923=100 Per cent.)

All department stores........
New York...........................
Buffalo................................
Newark...............................
Rochester............................
Syracuse..............................
Bridgeport..........................
Elsewhere, Second District
Apparel...............................
Mail order houses..............

Dollar Value of March Sales
(March 1923=100 Per cent.)

Commodity

Stock on Hand April 1
(April 1, 1923=100 Percent.)’

85
78
92
106
87
81
93
80
70

83

86

92
85

66

Annual Rate of Stock Turnover
(First Quarter)

1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924
73
74
81
70
74
93
81
74
55

98 100
100 100
97 100
124
94 100
126 110
94 100
143 115 104 100
121 96 101 100
97
96 100
91
94 100
116
118

121

93
93
108
90

105
103
109
107
98
113
104
104
113

3.4
3.5
2.5
3.1

3.1
3.3

2.2
2.6

2.8 2.3
2.5 2.5
2.6 3.0
2.0 2.0
5.6

4.4

3.7
3.8
2.7
3.4

2.8
2.9
3.4

2.2
5.8

3.3
3.4
2.5
3.3
3.2

2.8
2.6

1.9
4.6

3.5
3.6

2.8
3.4
3.2
3.2
3.1
1.9
4.8

3.5
3.7
2.7
3.6
3.3
3.1
3.0
1.9
4.4

MONTHLY REVIEW, MAY 1, 1924
Percent.

B u s in e s s O v e r F i f t y Y e a r s
F o r many years the figures o f bank clearings, par­
ticularly those outside o f New Y ork City, have been
looked upon as one o f the most reliable measures of
changes in the volume o f the cou n try’s business. The
chief weakness in the use o f these figures as an index
has been their susceptibility to wide disturbances due to
changes in the price level. In the A p ril 1 issue o f this
Review a study was presented showing the course o f the
general price level, including not only commodity prices
at wholesale, but other elements which make up the total
o f all payments, such as wages, rents, and the cost of
living. B y means of this index it has been possible to
allow for the price element in the clearings figures and

to produce a line the movement o f which from year to
year corresponds with other statistical evidences o f the
cou n try’s industrial life.
The accom panying diagram shows by months fo r the
past 50 years the deviations in the clearings figures from
the line o f regular increase. These figures allow fo r
price changes and seasonal variation and therefore re­
flect the recurrent swings upw ard and downward in the
physical volume o f the cou n try’s business activity. It
will be noted that there has been a gradual tendency
fo r these swings to become less and less violent, reflecting
the cou n try’s increased industrial stability due to growth
in wealth and resources and greater diversification o f
industries.

PER CENT.

Business Activity Over 50 Years, as Reflected in Bank Clearings Outside New York City, Corrected for Price and Seasonal Variations
(Computed Trend = 100 Per cent.)