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MONTHLY REVIEW
of Credit and Business Conditions
S e c o n d
Federal Reserve Agent

F e d e r a l

HE

D is tr ic t

Federal Reserve Bank, New York

Business Conditions in the United States

T

R e s e r v e

volume of merchandise distributed during

August as indicated by railway traffic and whole­
sale and retail trade was large. Production of

certain basic commodities and industrial employment

October 1 , 1923

Increases in wages amounting to 10 per cent, were
granted to anthracite coal miners, and readjustments of
wages and hours in the steel industry continued, but
wage advances during August were fewer than in any
month since last winter.
The principal changes in crop estimates shown by the

showed further slight decreases.
P r o d u c t io n

The Federal Reserve Board's index of production in
basic industries declined 2 per cent, during August and
was at the lowest point for this year. The August out­
put, however, was 27 per cent, larger than a year ago

September 1 forecast of the Department of Agriculture
were a large reduction in the expected cotton crop, slight
decreases in the probable yields of wheat, barley, and
oats, and increases of yields of corn,
potatoes.
T r ad e

and production in every month this year has been at a
higher level than in any month of the previous five
years. Lower production index in August reflected re­
duced output, after a correction for the usual seasonal

tobacco, and

Railroad freight shipments were larger in August than
in any previous month on record. This was due to a
seasonal increase in shipments of coal, miscellaneous

trend, of pig iron, woolen goods, flour, and cement. Cot­
ton consumption, sugar meltings, lumber cut, and bitu­
minous coal production increased.
The number and

merchandise, and agricultural products.
Wholesale
trade, according to the index of the Federal Reserve

value of new building projects as measured by permits
granted in 168 leading cities, increased during August,

than usual at this season of the year.

but actual contract awards were smaller than in July.
Employment at industrial establishments throughout
the United States was slightly smaller in August, while
average weekly earnings advanced about one per cent.

Board, increased 12 per cent, in August, which is more
Sales of clothing,

drygoods, and shoes showed substantial gains as com­
pared with July and were larger than a year ago.

Re­

tail trade also increased in August and sales in all re­
porting lines were larger than in August 1922.

Depart-

o ra r * n t

p ea cent.
----------------- [

.... ■

PRODUCT!- DN
BASIC INDUS FRIES
\
,V yf

°

^

J

r v

1919

1920

1910 AVERAGE

1921

1922

1923

Production in Basic Industries— Combination of 22 Individual
Series corrected for Seasonal Variation (1919 average = 100
Per cent.)




Index of Wholesale Prices, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
(1913 average = 100 Per cent.)

2

MONTHLY RE V IE W , OCTOBER 1, 1923
B ILLIO N S
O f DOLLARS

BILLIONS
OF DOLLARS

.. ... —

.....

ft
V X

FEDERAl„ RG5E.KVE
n o TES

/

E A K N IN < j\
ASSETS
V

1919

192.0

192.1

192.2.

192.3

1919

1920

192.1

\9ZZ

192.3

Bank Credit— 800 Member Banks in Leading Cities

Bank Credit— All Federal Reserve Banks

ment store sales in all sections of the country averaged
12 per cent, above last year’s level.

because Government disbursements were temporarily in
excess of tax collections.
The Treasury issued on September 15, $200,000,000
of six months certificates bearing 4 ^ per cent, interest,
compared with 4 per cent, borne by six months certifi­
cates issued in June.

P r ic e s

The general level of wholesale prices, according to the
index of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, remained rela­
tively constant in August, the change for the month
being a reduction of less than one-fifth of one per cent.,
compared with declines of about 2 per cent, in each of
the three preceding months. Prices of building mate­
rials, house furnishings, and fuel were materially re­
duced, while prices of farm products and foods increased.
Prices of certain raw materials, particularly cotton and
silk, advanced substantially during September, while
r
prices of petroleum and copper declined.
B a n k C r e d it

After a decline during July and the first part of Au­
gust the volume of bank credit in use showed a seasonal
increase during the last week of August and the first
two weeks of September. Total loans and demand de­
posits of member banks in principal cities increased dur­
ing recent weeks, reversing the trend of the preceding
two months. Loans chiefly for commercial and agricul­
tural purposes increased by $122,000,000 and reached a
high point for the year. Investment holdings of these
banks, on the contrary, continued to decline and on Sep­
tember 12 were lower than at any *.ime since the middle
of October of last year.
Between August 22 and September 19 the amount of
accommodation extended to member banks by Federal
Reserve Banks in industrial districts declined, while in
agricultural districts the seasonal demand for credit and
currency resulted in a considerable growth of Reserve
Bank credit in use.
The demand for currency arising out of crop moving
and fall trade has been reflected in an increase of
$82,000,000 in money in circulation between August 1
and September 1. Of this amount about $44,000,000
represents an increase in Federal Reserve note circula­
tion.
Money rates were firmer during the first two weeks of
September, but eased somewhat after the 15th, partly




Banking Conditions, Second District
There was a rise of approximately $70,000,000 in total
loans and investments and of $80,000,000 in total de­
posits of reporting member banks in this district in the
last week of August and first two weeks of September.
Loans made largely for commercial purposes advanced
nearly $50,000,000 to a new high point for the year, and
there was a moderate recovery in loans on securities,
but investments in securities fell to a new low point for
the year. The recent advance constitutes a reversal of
a declining tendency of deposits in this district during
the past few months.
The banking transactions arising out of the Govern­
ment operations on September 15 followed the sequence
familiar at quarterly tax dates, and were reflected in
temporary easing in money rates and decline in loans
of the Federal Reserve Bank. Payment of Government
certificates and interest due that date exceeded tax col­
lections here, necessitating transfer of funds to this dis­
trict by the Treasury from other parts of the country.
Reflecting these disbursements, total earning assets of
the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the week
ended September 19 declined $88,000,000 to $172,000,000, the lowest since 1917. Later in the month there
was again an advance in the loans of the Reserve Bank.

Changes in Bank Deposits
Statistics of all member banks recently made available
for the quarter ended June 30, indicate important
changes in bank deposits that have not been clear from
figures of the 800 weekly reporting member banks located
chiefly in the principal cities. The figures show that
while deposits of banks in central reserve and reserve

3

FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT AT NEW YORK

cities remained practically stationary between December
29 of last year and June 30 of this year, deposits of
banks outside these cities which are termed country
banks in the reports increased from $9,534,000,000 to
$9,995,000,000 or $461,000,000, and there was a nearly
equivalent increase in the deposits of all member banks.
The accompanying diagram compares the changes in
deposits of city and country banks since 1919, and indi­
cates that the pause in the increase of deposits of city
banks during the first half of this year followed an un­
usually large increase last year which carried them tem­
porarily out of proportion to deposits for the country as
a whole. Both city and country deposits, however, on
June 30 were much above the highest levels of 1920,
and together well over two billions higher.
BILLIONS
OF DOLLARS

c e n t r a l re

5ERVE &RESER /E
CITY BANKS

COUNTR'I BANK5

Commercial paper dealers reported good buying in the
interior where rates were somewhat easier than in New
York. Banks here remained out of the market and rates
stiffened slightly to 5*4 to 5 % per cent., compared with
514 per cent, a month previous. Most dealers reported
little increase in supplies of paper compared with Au­
gust when the outstanding paper of 26 dealers declined
$20,000,000 to $815,000,000.
Bills moved somevhat more actively in September,
due partly to increased demand from city and out-oftown banks, and continuance of buying for foreign
account. Supplies continued moderate, and rates re­
mained 4 % to 4*4 per cent, on purchases by the dealers,
and 4 to 4 % per cent, on sales by them.
The new offering of $200,000,000 six months Treasury
certificates, dated September 15 and bearing 4*4 per
cent, interest compared with a 4 per cent, issue of similar
maturity sold during June, was heavily oversubscribed
and subsequently traded in at par in the open market.
In the Stock Exchange money market, call money
ranged chiefly 5 per cent, or higher until after Septem­
ber 15 when tax day operations caused a marked easing.
On September 21, the rate again rose to 4y 2 and 5 per
cent. Time money rates touched 5y 2 to 5 % per cent,
early in the month, but eased slightly after the 15th.

Security Markets

19 19

1920

1921

1923

1922

Total of Demand,. Time and Government Deposits in all
Member Country Banks and all Member Banks in Central
Reserve and Reserve Cities

While figures for all member banks are not yet avail­
able for the late summer, the following table comparing
changes in deposits in different classes of cities in the
Second District alone between June 27 and August 29
indicates that so far as this district is concerned such
losses of deposits as occurred during the summer were
confined to banks in the larger cities, where the declines
were accompanied by extensive liquidation in securities.
CH AN G E S IN DE POSITS OF A L L M E M B E R B A N K S — SE C O N D D IS T R IC T
JUNE 27 TO A U G U ST 29, 1923
(In millions of dollars)
Cities with
Population of

Time
Deposits

Less than 5,000.............................................
5,000 to 15,000..................... .........................
15,000 to 100,000..........................................
Over 100,000..................................................

7
+
1
+ 17
3

+
+
-

11
6
0
218

+

-

201

T o ta l........................................................

8

Net Demand
Deposits

Following a gradual advance during August, stock
prices about the middle of September experienced a
reaction sufficient to offset nearly all of the increase from
the summer’s low point. The reaction was accompanied
by more active trading, and transactions on September
13 exceeded a million shares for the first time since June.
Though somewhat lower in September, bond prices
show no large change since last spring. Japanese bonds
were lower in September as a result of the earthquake,
while French and Belgian issues advanced.
The volume of new security issues during the first
three weeks of the month was larger than in the summer
but less than for corresponding periods of previous
years. Figures for the first seven months of the year
indicate an output of new issues, excluding refunding
loans, smaller than in the corresponding period of last
year, but larger than in the preceding three years. The
following table from compilat/ions by the Commercial
and Financial Chronicle compares by groups the total
issues, exclusive of those for refunding purposes, for the
first seven months of the years 1919-1923.
(In millions of dollars)

1919

1920

1921

1922

1923

19
1,139
65
68
200

27
1,854
125

15
1.093
157
40

80
1,430
354
214

24
1,652
101
243

375
23

U. S. Possessions.............

379
12
10

566
22
14

734
70
32

T o ta l..............................

1,892

2,404

1,907

2,914

Corporate:

Money Rates
The trend of money rates continued moderately up­
ward in September, in accordance with the seasonal
tendency, until after the 15th when Government opera­
tions caused a temporary easing for several days.




Foreign Governm ent..........
Farm L oa n ............................
W ar Finance C orporation..
M unicipal:

•• •

623
26
0 .6
2,670

4

MONTHLY REVIEW, OCTOBER 1, 1923

Foreign Exchange
News of the earthquake disaster in Japan was fol­
lowed by a sharp break in sterling exchange by which
Japanese trade is largely financed. On September 4 and
5, the demand rate sold down approximately 4 cents to
about $4.50%, the lowest since the latter part of No­
vember. There was later a recovery to around $4.55.
Seasonal commercial bill offerings were probably an ad­
ditional factor in low quotations. Japanese exchange
showed only a moderate net decline between September
1 and 20.
French and Belgian exchanges were stronger and rose
nearly J4 of a cent to 6 and 5 cents respectively, the
highest since midsummer. Italian rates were also firmer,
but mark exchange continued its rapid decline to new
low points accompanying further increase in note cir­
culation.

Gold Movement
August imports of gold, largely from England, Can­
ada, Germany, and the Netherlands, amounted to $32,837,397. Exports, amounting to $2,200,961, were chiefly
to China and Hongkong and Colombia.
The excess of gold imports during the first eight
months of the current year has amounted to $167,683,967 as compared with $173,347,594 during the corre­
sponding period last year.

July low point for the year of 142 and the April high
of 161. Cotton in September reached 30 cents a pound
for the first time since April. After remaining closed
from September 5 to 18 the raw silk market reopened
with prices over $10 a pound as compared with $7.50 a
pound before the earthquake. A t the conclusion of the
coal strike prices of anthracite coal at the mines were
quoted at an increase of 90 cents a ton.
The cost of living index of the National Industrial
Conference Board which advanced slightly in July was
practically unchanged during August at a level 5 per
cent, above the low point of 1922 and 62 per cent, higher
than in 1914.

Wages and Employment
Evidence of the reduction in pressure for workers
which has accompanied some decrease recently in in­
dustrial production is found in the fact that wages of
unskilled male labor in the Second District, computed
quarterly by this bank, were practically unchanged in
September at $23.59 a week, following a continued rise
since April 1922. These wages are only 8 per cent, below
the maximum reached in 1920 in contrast to basic com­
modity prices which are about 50 per cent, below the
maximum, according to an index maintained by this
bank. This relationship is illustrated in the accompany­
ing diagram.
CENT.

Foreign Trade
Exports during August were valued at $313,000,000,
not far from the average of the previous months of the
year. August imports were valued at $275,000,000,
practically the same as in July, but approximately 31
per cent, lower than in March, the high month this year.
Notwithstanding a moderate surplus of exports in July
and August, figures for the first eight months of the year
show a surplus of imports amounting to $88,000,000.
A factor in lower imports in recent months has been a
falling off in receipts of sugar and coffee, which in March
had reached the highest totals in more than two years.
Exports during August were sustained partly by in­
creased shipments of cotton and grains. During Septem­
ber there was an increased inquiry from Japan for steel
for reconstruction purposes, but little increase in actual
orders was reported.

Prices
The index of wholesale prices of the Bureau of Labor
Statistics remained practically unchanged during
August, and was approximately 6 per cent, lower than
in April, the high month of the year.
Prices of a number of important basic commodities,
particularly farm products, advanced substantially dur­
ing August and the first three weeks of September, and
the index of twenty basic commodities computed by this
bank recovered to approximately midway between the




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

Additional evidence of the reduced pressure for work­
ers is found in the lessened number of wage increases
reported monthly by the National Industrial Conference
Board and summarized in the table below.

M onth
Ended
Dec.
Jan.
Feb.
Mar.
Apr.

14
14
14
14
14

Reduc­
tions

In­
creases

1
1
0
1
0

12
23
42
37
229

Total
Changes
13
24
42
38
229

Month
Ended
M ay
June
July
Aug.
Sept.

14
14
14
14
14

Reduc­
tions

In­
creases

T otal
Changes

1
1
0
0
1

201
287
137
77
22

202
288
137
77
23

FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT AT NEW YORK

Wage increases in September included a 10 per cent,
increase to anthracite coal miners as one of the condi­
tions on which the coal strike was settled. Steel workers
are also receiving a 10 per cent, increase in wage rates
as the adjustment is made to the shorter working day.
The following table compares changes in index numbers
of wage rates in several industries since 1914 and since
the high level of 1920. The figures are from various
sources believed to be reliable.

(Estimated Normal = 100 Per cent.)
1922
Aug. Apr.

Steel in g o ts.................................................
Bituminous coal...........................................
Copper, U. S. mine.....................................
Tin deliveries...............................................

1923

Industry

1914

Anthracite, contract miners...............
Building, skilled and unskilled..........
Street railway, platform men.............
Unskilled labor, 2nd District.............
Textile, all classes...............................
Steel, unskilled....................................
Steam railway, all classes...................
Packing, unskilled...............................
Farm labor, male.................................

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

177
195
223
234
269
253
272
290
217

Latest

Per cent.
Change
since 1920

195
205
215
216
234
220
234
232
139

+ 10.0
+ 5.1
- 3.6
- 7.7
-1 3 .0
—13.0
-1 4 0
-2 0 .0
-3 5 .9

1923
May June July Aug.

°roducers’ Goods

Cotton consumption...................................
Woolen mill activity*.................................

1920
High

5

Leather, sole................................................

59
79
60o
85
77
111
97
87
105
108
120
59
93

114
115
117
89
132
134
101
120
102
119
134
82
103

124
122
114
95
114
139
108
118
120
125
133
83
96

122
114
109
98
92
139
96
113
Not
123
128
75
93

121 109
105 r 107
106 105
102 109p
99
84
142
*89
83
97p
104
available
114
135 i30
73
75
105p

2o

102
110
109
115
101
132
122
109
89
115
138
142
120
118
159

98
113
118
130
104
122
118
114
93
108
146
150
130
114
162

98
107
101
114
89
122
79
Not
93
111
152
159
126
105
134

100 104
122 116
105 109
123 145
79
86
135 149
74
70
available
88
110
151r 141p
162r 152p
109r
97p
89p 91p
94

Consumers' Goods

Anthracite coal............................................
Cattle slaughtered.....................................
Calves slaughtered......................................
Sheep slaughtered.......................................
Hogs slaughtered.........................................
Sugar meltings, U. S. ports........................
Tobacco consumption.................................
Automobile, all............................................
Automobile, passenger................................
Automobile, truck.......................................
Boots and shoes...........................................
Automobile tires..........................................

119
102
127
86
124
144
103
102
102
124
133
89
84
137

Production
* Seasonal variation not allowed for.

o Strike period.
p Preliminary,

The index of production maintained by the Federal
Reserve Board declined in August for the third suc­
cessive month. Irregularity marked the month’s devel­
opments, however, and there were as many increases in
output as there were declines.
Pig iron production declined from 3,678,000 tons in
July to 3,435,000 tons in August, but the output of steel
ingots rose from 3,514,000 tons to 3,679,000 tons. Un­
filled orders on the books of the United States Steel Cor­
poration during August declined 496,000 tons to 5,415,tons.

000

Anthracite coal mined increased 548,000 tons to 8,868,000 tons in August and the output of bituminous coal
increased 3,738,000 tons to 48,864,000 tons in August,
but this latter gain was not so large as that which usually
occurs at this period and the index of production accord­
ingly showed a small decline.
Cotton consumption by domestic mills increased from
462,000 bales in July to 492,000 bales in August. A
number of New England mills which had been closed
during July were reopened in August.
The number of passenger automobiles produced in
August was 304,000 or 7,000 more than were manufac­
tured in July. For the first eight months of the cur­
rent year there have been produced 2,431,000 passenger
cars, or more than the 2,339,000 cars which were manu­
factured during the entire calendar year of 1922, which
up to the present had been the year of greatest activity
in this industry.
The following table shows the indexes of production
computed by this bank in percentages of estimated nor­
mal production. Allowance has been made for seasonal
variations and year to year growth. The table has been
divided into producers 9 goods and consumers9 goods.




r Revised.

Indexes of Business Activity
The index numbers of business activity, which have
been computed by this bank, are brought together in
summary form in the following table. These have been
divided into three major groups— primary distribution,
distribution to the consumer, and general business ac­
tivity. In each case the figures are expressed as percent­
ages of the estimated normal. Allowance has been made
for seasonal fluctuations, year to year growth and, when
necessary, for changes in prices.

(Estimated Normal = 100 Per cent.)
1922

1923

Aug. Apr. May June July Aug.
Primary Distribution

Car loadings, mdse, and misc.....................
Car loadings, other. ...................................
Wholesale trade, Second District..............
Exports........................................................
Imports........................................................
Cereal exports.............................................
Distribution to Consumer

Department store sales...............................
Chain store sales.........................................
Mail order sales...........................................
New life insurance written.........................
Amusement receipts....................................
Magazine advertising.................................
Newspaper advertising...............................

100
81
105
90
102
203

114
125
105
82
122
107

108
119
103
83
130
143

106
117
100
90
119
92

102 102
119 118
102 112
95p 91p
llOp 97p
86
73

103
99
69
104
83
86
97

98
96
100
103
95
95
110

99
99
110
105
108
91
110

101
103
103
108
93
95
105

93
94
91
103
94
100
107

100
110
106
105
124
125

111
104
115
99
144
103

112
105
118
104
122
102

107
105
116
102
114
101

99
98
115
99
lllr
84

General Business Activity

Bank debits* outside N. Y. C ity................
Bank debits, New York C ity.....................
Electric power..............................................
Postal receipts..............................................
Building permits.........................................
Business failures..........................................
p Preliminary,
r Revised.

101
98
81
112
98
106
102
93
i03
124p
95

0

MONTHLY

RE VIEW . OCTOBER 1. 1923

Building
An increase of $20,600,000 during August in the value
of building permits granted in 158 principal cities
brought the total of permits granted during the month to
the highest figure for any month since May. The in­
crease was due partly to expansion of building in New
York City, but there were also gains in other cities par­
ticularly in the far west.
Building wages remained in August at the high level
reached in July, but the price of building materials con­
tinued to decline. As a result the cost of construction
index computed by this bank receded further to 194 per
cent, of the 1913 average cost and was 3 per cent, below
the May high point. Allowing for this recession in
costs, as well as for seasonal variation and normal
growth, this bank’s index of the volume of building for
which permits were issued was 124 per cent, of estimated
normal, compared with 111 per cent, in July. The
accompanying diagram shows the course of the volume
of building index since 1917.

apartments are 66 per cent, higher than in 1914, and 5
per cent, lower than the maximum of 1921.
The accompanying diagram compares the movement
of the two rent indexes with this bank’s index of the cost
of construction.
PER. C E N T .

PER CENT.

Rents of Apartments in New York City compared with Changes
in the Cost of Building Construction.
Apartment A is the
Typical Apartment renting for less than $15 per room in 1920.
Apartment B is the Typical Apartment renting for between $15
and $30 per room in 1920

An index of rents paid by workingmen’s families in
the United States, prepared by the National Industrial
Conference Board, was 6 per cent, higher in August
1923 than in October 1922 and 75 per cent, higher than
in 1914. A similar tendency is reported by the Massa­
chusetts Commission on the necessities of life.

Wholesale Trade
Volume of Building in Per cent, of Estimated Normal. Al­
lowance is made for Changes in Cost of Construction as well
as Seasonal Variations and Annual Growth

Awards for building contracts in 27 Northeastern
States, which usually follow changes in building per­
mits by some weeks, decreased $21,000,000 during Au­
gust, according to reports of the F. W . Dodge Company,
and at $253,000,000 were $121,000,000 below the May
high point. The aggregate value of contracts awarded
during the first 8 months of 1923 was only slightly
larger than in the corresponding period of 1922.

Apartment Rents
Reports from representative apartment house owners
and operators in New York City indicate an increase of
approximately 9 per cent, over a year ago in rents of
apartments which rented for less than $15 monthly per
room in 1920, but show practically no change in rents of
higher priced apartments. The advance in rents of low
priced apartments continues the tendency of previous
years, and reflects the fact that during the past two
years apartment construction in New York City has been
largely of the more expensive types. Compared with
1914 rents, present levels for low priced apartments
show an advance of 89 per cent. Rents of high priced




Largely because of heavy sales of clothing, both men*s
and women’s, the weighted index of wholesale trade in
this district, maintained by this bank, advanced from 2
per cent, above normal in July to 12 per cent, above in
August, the highest figure since February. August sales
were 20 per cent, larger than those of August a year ago.
This month for the first time sales of women’s cloth­
ing were divided into two groups— women’s coats and
suits and women’s dresses— as these industries are sep­
arate. Sales of coats and suits increased 35 per cent.

Dollar Value of August Sales
(August 1922=100 Per cent.)

Commodity
1919
Machine to o ls ......................
(a) M en’s and boys*........
(b) W omen’s coats and
(c) W omen’s dresses. . . .
Hardware..............................
D ry goods..............................

Total (w eighted).............

1920

1921

1922

1923

276
99
78

296
111
122

49
92
73

100
100
100

166
135
149

132
93
116
142
117
357
133
205
93
197

119
88
146
116
152
97
126
161
96
151

105
105
81
98
97
64
108
90
97
123

100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100

135
117
117
115
108
108
106
105
105
102

124

127

98

100

120

FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT AT NEW YORK
over a year ago and sales of dresses 17 per cent. Sales
of men's clothing were nearly 50 per cent, larger than
those of August 1922.
Each of the ten commodities for which figures are
received showed August sales larger than a year ago.
The largest increase was in the case of machine tools and
the smallest in shoes.

Department Store Business
Annual August sales by department stores in this dis­
trict yielded a large volume of business. Total sales
were 11 per cent, above those of August a year ago and
were 2.7 per cent, above those of July, whereas usually
August sales are less than those of July.
The increases were well distributed among the various
departments of the stores. Sales of women's and misses’
ready to wear garments were unusually good and the de­
mand for men's and boys' wear was well ahead of that
of last year. Shoe sales were also much larger than last
August. There was a continued demand for furniture
and house furnishing goods. The following table shows
the percentage change in sales from August last year to
August this year by major groups of departments.
W om en’s and Misses’ ready to w e a r ...........................................
M en’s and B oys’ wear....................................................................
Shoes....................................................................................................
W omen’s ready to wear accessories..............................................
F u r n itu re ...........................................................................................
Cotton g o o d s .....................................................................................
House furnishings..............................................................................
Silk g o o d s ..........................................................................................
H osiery................................................................................................
W oolen g o o d s ...................................................................................
Miscellaneous.....................................................................................

+
-f
+
+
+
+
+

23.5
19.6
17.1
15.2
14.6
14.5
12.3
4- 7 .5
+
5 .1
— 0 .1
+ 12.2

In order to show the changes from month to month
in department store sales independent of price changes
and the usual seasonal variations and growth in the size
of stores an index has been computed showing depart­
ment store sales compared with an estimated normal in
which allowance has been made for these various factors
affecting sales. The index is an attempt to discover
whether sales are increasing or decreasing from month
to month, a thing which can hardly be determined from
the raw figures because they are distorted by price

7

changes, seasonal changes, and growth from year to year.
The data now available indicate for example that depart­
ment store sales in the cities of the Second District
normally increase at the rate of 8 per cent, a year and
that December sales are normally twice as large as Feb­
ruary sales. The index is tentative and subject to
amendment as more experience accumulates concerning
the factors affecting retail trade.
In August this index was one per cent, above the esti­
mated normal for that month, a marked gain over July
when it was 7 per cent, below the estimated normal.
The diagram on this page shows the index of department
store sales during the past several years. The volume
of business has not fluctuated in any month more than
10 per cent, from what might have been normally ex­
pected. Companion diagrams show indexes of chain
store and mail order sales computed in similar fashion.
Chain store sales show even less fluctuation from esti­
mated normal than do department stores. On the other
hand mail order business showed heavy losses during
1920 and 1921 reflecting lowered purchasing power in
rural districts. In 1922 and early this year there was
a recovery but August sales were 19 per cent, below
normal.
Stocks carried by department stores on September 1
were 8 per cent, larger than those on the same date last
year. Stocks increased 7 per cent, between August 1 and
September 1 because of the receipt of fall and winter
merchandise.
Detailed figures by cities are shown in the following
table.
N et Sales D uring A ugust
Stock , R etail V alue , Sept . 1
(August 1922=100 Per cent.) (Sept. 1, 1922=100 Per cent.)
1919
All dept, stores___
New Y o r k ............
Rochester............
Bridgeport...........
Elsewhere in 2nd
D istrict...........
Apparel stores. . . .
Mail order houses

1920

1921

1922

1923 1919

1920

1921

1922 1923

87
87
86
85
72
100
107

101
98
104
108
97
119
125

95
93
98
101
94
108
105

100
100
100
100
100
100
100

111
110
111
111
99
125
107

94
94
100
95
98
116
103

126
126
131
134
153
161
118

101
99
103
108
115
121
102

100
100
100
100
100
100
100

108
108
113
110
102
112
95

89
84
142

101
99
137

93
94
99

100
100
100

107
119
127

88
80

113
104

104
94

100
100

106
113

PER. CENT

150,--------

100

sr * s t
DEPARTMENT STORE

1919

1920

1921

1922

1915

Department Store Sales in the Second
Federal Reserve District. Allowance
is made for Price Changes, Seasonal
Variation, and Year to Year Growth




Chain Store Sales, exclusive of Groc­
eries. Allowance is made for Price
Changes, Seasonal Variation, and Year
to Year Growth

Sales by Mail Order Houses. Allow­
ance is made for Price Changes, Sea­
sonal Variation, and Year to Year
Growth

8

MONTHLY REVIEW, OCTOBER 1, 1923

PRET
ECN.

Amusement Receipts, based on Amuse­
ment Tax Collections reported by Com­
missioner of Internal Revenue. Allow­
ance is made for Seasonal Variation

PR ET
E CN.

PER CENT.

Advertising in Newspapers and Maga­
zines compared with Estimated Nor­
mal. Allowance is made for Seasonal
Variation and Year to Year Growth

Newark department stores reported a gain in August
of 11 per cent, in sales as compared with August a year
ago in spite of a strike which tied up all the street rail­
ways.
Department store business in New York City was dis­
turbed during the latter part of September by the strike
of newspaper pressmen which prevented the stores from
carrying on the usual newspaper advertising programs.
At this time it is difficult to determine the effect upon
sales, but merchants assert that business this September
compares favorably with that of last year.

Life Insurance Sales
Sales of life insurance, in common with savings bank
deposits, are an index of one type of purchasing power
of the consumer. The accompanying diagram compares
life insurance sales, exclusive of group and industrial in­
surance, during recent years with an estimated normal
which allows for seasonal variation, and normal year to
year growth. Allowance has also been made for changing
price conditions by dividing insurance sales by the cost of
living. The index figures therefore show the purchasing
power of insurance written. The figures are based upon
statistics reported to the Life Insurance Sales Bureau by
48 companies having in force approximately 80 per cent,
of the outstanding insurance in this country. As shown
by the diagram, life insurance sales were largest in 1919
just after the close of the war, possibly partly due to a
more widespread familiarity with insurance resulting
from Government insurance. During 1921 and part of
1922 sales were below normal, but in recent months have
been slightly above normal.

Sales of new Life Insurance, exclusive
of group and Industrial Insurance
compared w ith Estimated Normal. A l­
lowance is made for Price Changes,
Seasonal Variation, and Year to Year
Growth

of amusement. The accompanying diagram shows the
trend of receipts in terms of the average for the past four
and a half years which is taken as the normal, with allow­
ance made for seasonal variation. Comparison with other
indexes of business activity indicates a considerable lag
in the movement of amusement receipts which reached
their maximum late in 1920 and their later minimum
towards the end of 1922. During this year amusement re­
ceipts have been close to the average of the preceding
five years.

Chain Store Sales
August sales by all types of chain stores reporting
regularly showed increases compared with a year ago
ranging from 7 per cent, for cigar stores to 28 per cent,
for apparel stores. The increases in some cases were
due to the opening of new stores but for ten cent
stores average sales per store showed a gain. The in­
crease in the value of shoe sales was due to an advance
of 15.8 per cent, in prices, as the number of pairs sold
declined 2 per cent. Detailed figures follow.

Number of
Stores

N et Sales D uring
A ugust
August 1922 *s 100 Per Cent.
s

1920 1921

1922

1923

Per cent.
Change
in Sales
per Store,
Aug. 1922
to
Aug. 1923

96
87
102
108
100
102

96
89
88
103
97
101

100
100
100
100
100
100

128
118
117
114
109
107

-1 2 .0
+ 1 4 .4
- 8 .3
- 0 .9
- 2 .8
+ 0 .3

98

91

100

117

-

Type of Store
Aug.
1922

G rocery...................
D ru g ........................
C igar........................

1919

373
1,763
11,560
213
279
2,591

543
1,817
14,757
244
312
2,754

66
73
71
122
87
79

16,779

A pparel...................

Aug.
1923

20,427

73

4 .2

Amusement Receipts
The volume of amusement receipts may also be con­
sidered as a measure of the margin of purchasing power
of the consumer in excess of the ordinary necessities. The
amount of these receipts is indicated by the taxes col­
lected each month by the Commissioner of Internal Rev­
enue as a 10 per cent, levy on receipts at various places




An index computed by this bank of sales of chain
stores other than groceries shows an increase of 4 per
cent, between July and August as illustrated in the
diagram on page 7. Sales of these stores are excep­
tionally steady and are little affected by changes in busi­
ness conditions.