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MONTHLY

REVIEW

BUSINESS AND AGRICULTURAL CONDITIONS

WILLIAM W. HOXTON, CHAIRMAN AND FEDERAL RESERVE AGENT
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA
DISTRICT SUMMARY— Business was about
at seasonal levels in March and early April in
the Fifth Federal reserve district, and in some
respects was better than in March last year.
The volume of construction work provided for
in permits issued in leading cities and in con­
tracts awarded for rural and urban construction
was considerably above the amount of work
provided for in March 1927, and this enlarged
program of building distinctly lessened the num­
ber of unemployed, although there is still a large
number of idle workers. Retail trade in March,
as reflected in department store business, was
better than in March last year, and sales during
the first quarter of 1928 also exceeded sales in
the first three months of 1927. Debits to in­
dividual accounts during the four weeks ended
April n th exceeded debits for the corresponding
period a year ago, and business failures in the
fifth district in March were less numerous than
in March last year, although last month’s lia­
bilities were larger. The continued cool weather
held back development of fruit buds, and con­
sequently prospects for a full apple crop this
year are much better than they were in April
last year. Fertilizer sales in larger tonnage than
in 1927 indicate that farmers are stronger finan­
cially this year and also promise increased yields
of 1928 crops if weather conditions prove favor­
able during the growing season. Cotton prices
advanced about $5 a bale between the middle
of March and the middle of April.

On the other hand, textile mills are operating
considerably below the record level of March
and April 1927, and coal production is also at a
lower rate at present than a year ago. Unfavor­
able weather for planting and germinating of
seed has delayed farm work, and crops are get­
ting off to a late start. Grains did not winter
well, and pastures are very poor.' Wholesale
trade in March was below that of March 1927
in nearly all lines for which information is, avail­
able, and member banks are borrowing more ex­
tensively from the reserve bank than they were
a year ago.



APRIL 30, 1928
RESERVE BANK OPERATIONS.— Changes
in the principal items of condition of the Fed­
eral Reserve Bank of Richmond between March
15th and April 15th, both this year, were of a
seasonal nature. Rediscounts for member banks
rose during the month from $26,931,000 to $35,691,000, the increase reflecting additional credit
needs for crop planting and fertilizer purchases.
The Richmond bank’s total earning assets rose
by about the same amount as the increase in
rediscounts, total earning assets on March 15th
being $47,837,000 and on April 15th totaling
$57,380,000.
Federal Reserve note circulation
decreased during the month from $62,407,000
to $59,948,000, book credit rather than cash be­
ing needed at this season. Member banks re­
duced their reserve deposits from $71,464,000
at the middle of March to $70,940,000 at the mid­
dle of April, merely a daily fluctuation. The sev­
eral changes in the items enumerated reduced
the cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank
of Richmond from $96,513,000 on March 15th to
$84,426,000 on April 15th, and lowered the ratio
of cash reserves to note and deposit liabilities
combined from 71.41 per cent to 63.63 per cent.
In comparison with the figures in the Rich­
mond bank’s statement for April 15, 1927, those
in the statement for April 15th this year show
a considerably greater use of reserve bank credit
this year. Rediscounts for member banks held
by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
totaled $22,973,000 on April 15th last year and
$35*691,000 on the corresponding date this year,
an increase of 55 per cent. The total earning as­
sets of the Richmond bank rose from $40,494,000
t0 $57>38o,ooo during the year. Federal Reserve
notes in actual circulation declined during the
year, however, decreasing from $69,917,000 on
April 15, 1927, to $59,948,000 on April 15, 1928.
Member bank reserve deposits rose from $66,542,000 last year to $70,940,000 this year. The
cash reserves of the Federal Reserve Bank of
Richmond, which totaled $108,536,000 at the
middle of April last year, declined to $84,426,000
on April 15th this year, and the ratio of cash re­
serves to note and deposit liabilities combined
dropped from 75.02 per cent to 63.63 per cent
during the same period.

Business Conditions in the United States will be found on page 8

CONDITION OF SIXTY-SIX REPORTING MEMBER BANKS IN SELECTED CITIES
ITEMS

April 11, 1928

March 14, 1928

Total Loans and Discounts (including all rediscounts) ~
Total Investments in Bonds and Securities..................
Reserve Balance with Federal Reserve Bank..............
Cash in Vaults ..............................<
....................................
Demand Deposits ..............................................................
Time Deposits .............. .....................................................
Borrowed from Federal Reserve Bank............................

$ 521,452,000
175.495.000
42.080.000
12.416.000
373.391.000
247.682.000
18.560.000

April 13, 1927

$ 515,327,000
171.710.000
42.111.000
11.891.000
373.280.000
246.274.000
17.590.000

$ 520,300,000
142.674.000
40.470.000
14.143.000
381.082.000
217.321.000
7,278,000

The figures in the accompanying table show totals of the principal items of condition reported
by sixty-six member banks in thirteen of the leading cities of the Fifth reserve district. Figures are
shown for three dates, April n th and March 14th this year, and April 13th last year, thus affording
an opportunity for comparison of the latest available figures with those of the preceding month and
the preceding year.
An examination of the April 11, 1928, figures in contrast with those of the preceding month this
year shows a seasonal increase in loans to customers amounting to $6,125,000 during the month.
At the same time the reporting banks increased their investments in bonds and securities by $3,785,- '
000, and raised their cash in vaults by $525,000. During the month the aggregate reserve balance of
the reporting banks at the reserve bank declined $31,000, a daily fluctuation only, and the reporting
banks increased their borrowing at the reserve bank by $970,000. Demand deposits rose only $111,000
during the month, a small figure in comparison with the increase in loans to customers, but time de­
posits gained $1,408,000 between March 14th and April nth.
During the year between April 13, 1927, and April n , 1928, loans to customers by the sixty-six
reporting banks increased by $1,152,000, while aggregate deposits rose $22,670,000 in the same period.
Demand deposits declined $7,691,000 during the year, but time deposits rose $30,361,000. With these
increased deposits available for use this year, the reporting banks increased their investments in
bonds and securities by $32,821,000, and their reserve balance at the reserve bank by $1,610,000, but
their cash in vaults decreased $1,727,000 and their borrowing at the Federal reserve bank rose $12,282,000.
DEBITS TO INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTS
TOTAL DEBITS DURING THE FOUR WEEKS ENDED
CITIES
Asheville, N. C...........
Baltimore, Md............
Charleston, S. C.........
Charleston, W. Va. .
Charlotte, N. C...... ,...
Columbia, S. C...........
Cumberland, Md.........
Danville, Va....... .......
Durham, N. C............
Greensboro, N. C........
Grenville, S. C...........
Hagerstown, Md.........
Huntington, W. Va. .
Lynchburg, Va...........
Newport News. Va. .
Norfolk, Va.................
Raleigh, N. C..............
Richmond, Va.............
Roanoke, Va. ... ..........
Spartanburg, S. C. ...
Washington, D. C. ...
Wilmington, N. C. ...-.
Winston-Salem, N. C
Total for District ....

April 11, 1928
$

32,370,000
379,885,000
27,229,000
36,267,000
58,905,000
31,735,000
8,372,000
8,106,000
23,788,000
24.596.000
22.437.000
10,283,000
20,387,000
17,G48,000
8,836,000
62,347,000
20,274,000
128,511,000
26,230,000
13,369,000
243,262,000
20,026,000
43,949,000

$ 1,268,812,000

March 14, 1928
$

25,424,000
375,083,000
24,588,000
35,466,000
51,114,000
20,364,000
8,010,000
9,254,000
27,518,000
22 ,886,000
23,710,000
9,185,000
20,284,000
17,196,000
7,789,000
62,339,000
17,644,000
119,526,000
26,831,000
11,356,000
218,260,000
16,840,000
32,874,000

$ 1,183,541,000

April 13, 1927
$

34,331,000
377,631,000
27,415,000
33,888,000
50,846,000
22,952,000
8,261,000
8,433,000
26,601,000
22.009.000
21.257.000
10,897,000
23,168,000
17,508,000
9,897,000
64,635,000
19,100,000
121,754,000
26,848,000
15,423,000
243,479,000
19,853,000
45,400,000

$ 1,251,586,000

Debits to individual, firm and corporation accounts in clearing house banks in twenty-three lead­
ing trade centers of the Fifth Federal reserve district are shown in the accompanying table for three
equal periods of four weeks each, ended April 11, 1928, March 14, 1928, and April 13, 1927. The debits
figures include all checks drawn against depositors’ accounts, regardless of whether or not they pass
through the clearing house, and form one of the best indicators of the volume of business passing
through the reporting banks.




2

Aggregate debits during the four weeks ended April n th this year amounted to $1,268,812,000,
in comparison with a total of $1,183,541,000 reported for the preceding four weeks ended March 14th,
an increase of $85,271,000, or 7.2 per cent. An increase during the later period is seasonal, since the
March 15th income tax payment and April 1st quarterly settlements occurred during those four weeks.
Nineteen of the twenty-three cities reported higher figures during the April n th period.
Debits totaling $1,268,812,000 during the four weeks ended April n th this year exceeded aggre­
gate debits during the corresponding period ended April 13th last year, when a total of $1,251,586,000
was reported, but only eleven of the twenty-three cities reported higher figures, while twelve cities
reported lower figures. Most of the changes were slight, but the gains exceeded the declines approx­
imately 1 per cent.
SAVINGS DEPOSITS—Total deposits in twelve mutual savings banks in Baltimore amounted to
$180,663,255 at the close of business March 31, 1928, in comparison with deposits aggregating $179,358,523 on February 29th this year and $163,232,310 on March 31st last year. At the close of business
April n th this year, sixty-six regularly reporting member banks, located in thirteen leading cities
of the Fifth reserve district, had time deposits aggregating $247,682,000, compared with $246,274,000
on March 14th this year and $217,321,000 on April 13, 1927.
BUSINESS FAILURES—“ In the insolvency statistics for both March and the first quarter,
there is a contrast between the larger number of commercial failures and the smaller liabilities, in
comparison with the returns for last year,” says Dun’s Review of April 7. Commenting further, the
Review states that “ With a total of 2,236, the March defaults in the United Spates are 4.3 per cent
in excess of the 2,143 insolvencies for that period of 1927, while last month’s indebtedness of $54,814,145 is 5.3 per cent below the $57,890,905 of the earlier year. In no other month since that time,
however, have the present liabilities been equaled, while the number of failures last month is the
highest for any March since 1922, when 2,463 defaults were reported. The maximum indebtedness
for March was established in 1924, at about $97,600,000; in 1922 the amount approximated $71,600,000,
and in 1921 it was $67,400,000.
The 7,055 insolvencies of the first quarter of the current year are 6.2 per cent above the 6,643
failures of the same three months of 1927, whereas this year’s liabilities of $147,519,198 are 5.5 per
cent less than the $156,121,853 of the first quarter of last year. It was in 1922 that the largest indebt­
edness for the first quarter and, in fact, for any quarter was recorded, at about $218,006,000; in the
first quarter of 1924 the total was practically $184,900,000, and in 1921 it was $180,400,000. Hence
the quarterly liabilities now reported have been exceeded in the first quarter of four preceding years,
although the number of defaults for the three months just ended represents the maximum for the
period, excepting the 7,517 insolvencies of the first quarter of 1922 and the 7,216 failures of 1915.
The record of banking failures in the United States for the first quarter of this year reveals a
decided improvement over the returns for the corresponding period of 1927. Such failures in the
three months recently ended numbered 109, with liabilities of $36,802,098, and these totals are well
below the 174 similar reverses, involving $66,619,286, last year. Reduced to percentages, the numeri­
cal decrease is 37.4 per cent, while the falling off in the indebtedness is 44.8 per cent. The current
statistics also disclose a substantial betterment in comparison with those for the first quarter of
1925 and 1924/’
In the Fifth reserve district, business failures in March 1928 numbered 141, with liabilities ag­
gregating $4,754,919, compared with 147 insolvencies and liabilities totaling $3,585,847 reported for
March 1927.
LABOR—Conditions in labor circles improved during March and the first half of April with the
beginning of Spring construction work, but there is still a large number of unemployed persons in the
Fifth district. An enlarged building program in the district in comparison with the first quarter of
1927 has given work to many unskilled laborers, and promises to give employment to a large number
of skilled workmen as soon as ground is prepared and foundations are put down. Much of this large
volume of work is industrial building, and .Virginia has led in securing new plants during the Spring.
No change for the better occurred last month in clerical and professional circles, and in all of the
cities there is considerable unemployment in the white collar class. Textile mills continued operations
on restricted schedules last month, reducing the working time of their operatives, but practically no
mills were shut down entirely. A seasonal decrease in, the demand for bituminous coal reduced the
scale of operations in the coal fields, which lowered the number of hours worked by miners. F ar­
mers required some additional labor in March and early; April for crop planting, but comparatively
little agricultural work has yet been done this season. On the whole, the outlook for employment
during the next few months is considerably better than was expected at the beginning of the year.
COAL—Bituminous coal production in March 1928 totaled approximately 43,955,000 net tons, a
daliy average of 1,628,000 tons, compared with a total of 41,351,000 tons and a daily average of 1,661,000 tons mined during the shorter month of February and a total of 60,147,000 tons and a daily




3

average of 2,228,000 tons brought to the surface in March 1927. The recession in production last
month in comparison with February is seasonal, and the reduction in comparison with March 1927
production is accentuated by exceptionally large figures a year ago as a result of the strike of soft
coal miners in union fields which had been called to begin on April 1st. 'W est Virginia continued to
lead in output of bituminous coal during March, the figures for that state slightly exceeding those
for Pennsylvania. A recent Federal Court decision in the Lake Cargo coal rate case is expected to bene­
fit operators in the Fifth district and increase bituminous coal shipments from West Virginia to Lake
ports.
.
TEXTILES —Fifth district textile mills continued operations on restricted schedules in March,
and consumed 246,618 bales of cotton in comparison with 246,145 bales used in the shorter month
of February 1928 and 287,436 bales consumed in March 1927. North Carolina mills consumed 136,778 bales of cotton last month, South Carolina mills used 100,693 bales, and Virginia mills used 9,147
bales, lower figures in each case than those for March a year ago. Consumption of cotton in the dis­
trict last month amounted to 42.4 per cent of National consumption, a slightly smaller percentage than
that consumed in February this year (42.9 per cent), but larger than the percentage (41.5 per cent)
used in the Fifth district in March 1927.
BUILDING OPERATIONS FOR THE MONTHS OF MARCH 1928 AND 1927.
Permits Issued
New

CITIES

2

3
4

5

6

7

8
9

10
11
12

13
14
15
16
17
18
19

20
21
22

23
24
25
26
27
28
29

Frederick, Md.....
Hagerstown, Md...
Danville Va.........
Lynchburg, Va....
Norfolk, Va..........
Petersburg, Va.....
Richmond, Va......
Roanoke, Va........
Bluefield, W. Va...
Charleston, W. Va.
Clarksburg, W. Va
Huntington, W.Va.
Parkersburg,W.Va
Asheville, N. C.....
Charlotte, N. C....
Durham, N. C......
Greensboro, N. C.
High Point, N. C.~
Raleigh, N. C.......
Salisbury, N. C....
Wilmington, N. C.
Winston-Salem, N. C.

Charleston, S. C ...
Columbia, S. C.....
Greenville, S. C....
Spartanburg, S. C.
Washington, D. C.

608
26
5
31
30
32

100
8
120

70
13
69
17
43
18
38
74
65
80
48
41

12

7
116

8

13
23
43
227

Alterations

Repairs

1928 1927

1 Baltimore, Md.....
2 Cumberland, Md...

New Construction

1928

1927

1928

1927

548 1,043 1,346 $ 1,755,400 $ 2,572,800
29
6
9
76,286
493,530
1
1
16
232,715
20,900
42
8
11
51,770
66,820
16
10
11
89,151
81,475
39
129,676
26 37
74,910
82
87
107
177,529
432,370
8
6
4
23,860
153,700
102
70
81
509,570
570,315
38
36
91
278,775
573,263
27
3
5
19,165
108,475
45
13
17
524,338
151,433
29
15
13
47,085
38,992
60
1
41,200
441,230
3
19
13
9
73,250
47,200
43
59
90
390,389
660,625
59
18
644,915
331,165
57
44
14
296,524
207,000
10
57
58
36
811,340
897,062
59
10
10
161,400
362,550
30
7
17
395,525
183,465
14
12
8
80,000
48,605
5
24,200
11
11
25,400
112
36 3,975,644
778,635
97
12
37
26
6,685
71,510
64
43
48,950
85,300
13
45
12
170,150
119,700
30
21
138,952
147,225
23
31
474
441 1,982,330
2,967,400
291

Totals......... 1,985 1,910 2,343 2,477 $14,342,937 $11,526,892

1928
$ 569,100 $
1,800
500
5,650

1,100

11,957
27,261
4,650
42,668
25,863
215
18,955
12,525
15,000
9,300
19,940
40,443
14,850
205,870
14,500
1,550
11,350

6,000

65,942
28,960
26,110
11,325
7,250
416,895
$1,617,529

1927

Increase or Per Cent
Decrease
of
of
Increase 0
Total
or
2
Valuation Decrease

222,172 $— 470,472 — 16.8%
8,640
410,404 483.2
2,500 — 213,815 — 90.9
16,850
5.6
3,850
6,762
2,014
2.3
53,508 — 96,317 — 52.6
64,987
89.5
217,115
705
133,785 544.6
91,076
2.1
12,337
14,755
305,596 104.1
12,300
— 101,395 — 84.0
7,975
383,885 240.8
59,650
— 39,032 — 39.6
1,500 — 386,530 — 87.3
4,775
— 21,525 — 27.6
27,868
62.7
262,308
33,673
87.9
320,520
16,115
39.6
88,259
41,428
8.4
78,720
16,475 — 203,125 — 53.6
11,575
202,035 103.6
6,575
65.5
36,170
4,800
0
0
29,260
3,233,691 400.3
11,615 — 47,480 — 57.1
17,190
68.4
45,270
4,775
57,000
45.8
4,491 —
5,514 — 3.6
458,475 —1,026,650 — 30.0
$1,252,470 $

3,181,104

1
2

3
4
5

6
7

8
9

10
11
12

13
14
15
16
17
18
19

20
21
22

23
24
25
26
27
28
29

24.9%

— Denotes decrease.
NOTE— The figures in the above table reflect the amount of work provided for in the corporation limits of the
several cities, but take no account of suburban developments.

For the third consecutive month, building permits issued by building inspectors in twenty-nine
leading cities of the fifth reserve district in March 1928 exceeded those issued during the correspond­
ing month last year. The twenty-nine cities issued 1,985 permits for new construction in March
this year, with estimated valuation of $14,342,937, compared with 1,910 permits and total valuation
of $11,526,892 for the same class of work in March last year. The two largest cities, Baltimore and
Washington, reported decreased valuation figures last month, but Richmond, Norfolk, Winston-Salem
and Charlotte reported larger figures. Alteration and repair permits issued last month totaled 2,343,
estimated to cost $1,617,529, compared with 2,477 permits and $1,252,470 valuation in March 1927.
The aggregate value of all permits issued in March 1928 was $15,960,466, compared with a total value
of $12,779,362 for March 1927 permits, an increase this year of $3,181,104, or 24.9 per cent. Seven­
teen cities reported higher figures this year, one reported the same total, and eleven cities reported
lower figures. Increases of more than 100 per cent were shown by Cumberland, Petersburg, Roanoke,




4

4

Charleston, W. Va., Raleigh and Winston-Salem. Winston-Salem led all cities in the district in the
volume of work provided for in the March 1928 permits. It is worthy of mention that a large volume
of industrial construction is being started in the fifth district, which is not included in the city build­
ing inspector’s reports. In Virginia two plants upon which work is beginning will cost approximately
as much as the combined figures for all work covered in the March building permit totals.
Contracts actually awarded during March for construction work in the fifth district totaled $42,061,428, of which $15,471,118 was for residential work, according to statistics collected by the F. W.
Dodge Corporation. In March 1927 contracts awarded in the fifth district totaled $34,693,000, of
which $16,605,210 was residential work. These figures include suburban and rural construction in ad­
dition to the city work covered by building permit figures.
COTTON—Spot cotton prices on Carolina markets advanced exactly one cent per pound be­
tween the week ended March 17th and the week ended April 14th, reaching the highest point during
the later period since the end of November. The average weekly price for upland short staple mid­
dling cotton rose from 18.62 cents per pound during the week ended March 17th to 19.27 cents, 19.22
cents ,and 19.27 cents, respectively, during the weeks ended March 24th, March 31st, and April 7th.
The average for the week ended April 14th, the latest period for which figures are available, rose to
19.62 cents per pound, which was about two and a quarter cents above the recent low level at the be­
ginning of February and approximately six cents per pound above the price at mid-April last year.
Cotton consumed in American mills during Mardi 1928 compared unfavorably with the record
figure of March 1927, 581,318 bales used last month comparing with 573,810 bales consumed during
the short month of February and 693,081 bales consumed in March 1927. Total consumption for the
eight months of the season to date—August 1, 1927, to March 31, 1928—amounted to 4,780,513 bales
compared with 4,711,752 bales consumed during the corresponding period ended March 31, 1927. Ac­
cording to the Bureau of the Census report of April 13th, consuming establishments held 1,593,486
bales of cotton in their warehouses on March 31st, compared with 1,975,694 bales so held on the
corresponding date a year earlier. Public warehouses and compresses held 3,510,534 bales in storage
on March 31st, compared with 4,482,905 bales a year ago. Exports totaled only 614,428 bales in March
this year, compared with 1,129,537 bales shipped abroad during the same month of 1927, and total
exports for the eight months ended March 31st amounted to 5,845,379 bales against 8,829,056 bales
exported during the eight months ended March 31, 1927. Imports last month totaled 41,433 bales,
compared with 41,267 bales brought in during March last year. The cotton growing states con­
sumed 431,495 bales in March this year, or 74.2 per cent of National consumption, compared with
497,058 bales, or 71.2 per cent of National consumption, used in cotton growing states during March
1927.
AGRICULTURAL NOTES—The weather in the fifth reserve district has been unfavorable for
farm work since the beginning of the year, and preparations for this year’s operations are therefore
two or three weeks behind those of a year ago. In some sections of the district rains fell so fre­
quently during March and early April that little plowing could be done, and temperatures were too
low to germinate seed after planting. The soil is in excellent condition for future work, and the re­
tarded season is not necessarily a serious handicap. Fruit prospects are much better than a year
ago, as a result of the continued cold which prevented premature bud development. Small grains did
not winter well, and on April 1st small grain prospects in the district were unusually poor, but it is
possible that favorable seasons may enable these crops to overcome the present poor condition. Fre­
quent freezes and thaws during the winter, with comparatively little snow cover for protection, ac­
count for the low condition of fall sown grains. Early potatoes have been planted in the district, but
on April 1st few fields had come up in Virginia, while in the Carolinas development was retarded.
Pastures are in very poor condition, in contrast writh the condition a year ago, and many observers
think grasses were permanently damaged by the alternate freezing and thawing during the winter.
Lamb development in Virginia is backward, due to a lack of green feed, and shipments to market will
be delayed. In most of the district milk production is less than in April 1927, another result of poor
pasturage this season. Farm labor is more plentiful now than in April a year ago, and throughout
most of the district farm wages have declined slightly, but the demand for labor has thus far been
less than last year, probably due in part to the lateness of the present season. Fertilizer prices are
higher than in 1927, but on the whole farmers are in better financial condition and tax tag sales in­
dicate that a larger tonnage of fertilizer has been sold this season.




5

F IG U R E S O N R E T A IL T R A D E
_ _ _ _ _ _As IidicateJ By Reports from Thirty Reprcscnutifc Department Stores for the Moath of March 1928
Percentage increase in March 1928 sales, over sales in March 1927:
Baltimore
Richmond
Washington
6.6

8.8

8.0

Other Cities

District

— .1

6.6

Percentage increase in total sales since January 1st, over sales during the same three months in 1927:
1.9
3.1
5.1
— 3.3
2.7
Percentage increase in March 1928 sales, over average March sales during the three years 1923-1925, inclusive:
2.5
27.3
18.1
— 3.0
9.6
Percentage increase in stock on hand March 31, 1928, over stock on March 31, 1927:
— 6.0
— 3.2
— .1
— 3.5
— 3.3
Percentage increase in stock on hand March 31, 1928, over stock on February 29, 1928:
8.9
6.8
7.3
3.7
7.4
Percentage of sales in March 1928 to average stock carried during that month:
28.3
32.3
28.7
20.4
27.7
Percentage of total sales since January 1st, to average stock carried during each of the three months:
72.9
80.9
77.8
54.9
73.1
Percentage of collections in March to total accounts receivable on March 1, 1928:
24.5
31.1
31.0
31.6
28.0
— Denotes decreased percentage.

Thirty representative department stores in the fifth reserve district sold an average of 6.6 per
cent more goods, in dollar amount ,in March 1928 than in March 1927, and also sold 9.6 per cent more
than average March sales during the three years 1923-1925, inclusive. Part of the March increase was prob­
ably due to the earlier date of Easter this year, some of the early Easter trade which fell in April
1927 occurring in late March this year. On the other hand, the weather in March 1927 was mild and
stimulated more Spring buying than the cold weather of March 1928. Total sales in the reporting
stores since January 1st this year averaged 2.7 per cent above sales in the first quarter of 1927.
Stocks of goods on the shelves of the reporting stores at the end of March averaged 3.3 per cent
less than stocks on March 31, 1927, but were seasonally larger by 7.4 per cent than stocks on Feb­
ruary 29, 1928. Baltimore stores showed the greatest decline in stocks in comparison with the pre­
ceding year, and Washington reported the smallest decline.
The percentage of sales to average stocks carried during March was 27.7 per cent for the district
as a whole, and the percentage of total sales during the first three months of this year to average
stocks carried during each of the three months was 73.1 per cent, indicating an annual turnover of
2.92 times in contrast with a rate of 2.86 times reported by the same stores' for the first quarter of
i^ Collections by the reporting stores during March totaled 28.0 per cent of outstanding receivables
as of March 1st, all cities except Baltimore—which remained unchanged—showing some improvement
over the February percentages. The percentages this year were lower in Baltimore, the Other Cities
and in the district as a whole than, those of March 1927, but Richmond and Washington percentages
were higher during the 1928 month. The improvement in Richmond collections was perhaps due
in part to a recent advertising campaign by Richmond stores against slow accounts.




6

WHOLESALE TRADE, MARCH 1928
Percentage increase in March 1928 sales, compared with sales in March 1927:
32 Groceries
11 Dry Goods
5 Shoes
16 Hardware
5 Furniture
13 Drugs
— .3
— 14.5
1.7
— 7.6
— 30.9
— 2.0
Percentage increase in March 1928 sales, compared with sales in February 1928:
5.9
7.9
12.2
19.6
.
.2
12.9
Percentage increase in total sales since January 1st, compared with sales during the same three months in 1927:
.1
— 13.1
— 2.1
— 6.5
— 13.1
— 1.7
Percentage increase in stock on March 31, 1928, compared with stock on March 31, 1927:
— 1.4(11)*
20.0(4)*
— 32.4(4)*
— 1.5(8)*
.......
.......
Percentage increase in stock on March 31, 1928, compared with stock on February 29, 1928:
.......
........
3.5(11)* '
— 5.1(4)*
2.0(4)*
— 5.5(8)*
Percentage of collections in March to accounts receivable on March 1, 1928:
65.1(19)*
32.4(8)*
25.1(5)*
34.9(12)*
22.1(3)*
54.7(8)*
— Denotes decreased percentage.

* Number of reporting firms.

Eighty-two firms ,representing six leading lines of trade, sent reports to the Federal Reserve
Bank of Richmond on wholesale trade during March. Sales by shoe firms exceeded sales in March
1927, but sales in the five other lines declined last month. March sales in all six lines increased sea­
sonally over February 1928 sales, both because of increased demand as a result of Spring require­
ments and on account of the longer month. In total sales during the first quarter of this year, sales
of groceries exceeded sales by the same firms during the first quarter of 1927, but this year’s sales in
dry goods, shoes, hardware, furniture and drugs were lower than sales in the same lines during the
first three months of last year.
Stocks on hand in the reporting firms at the end of March 1928 were larger in dry goods than
on March 31, 1927, but were less in groceries, shoes and hardware. Dry goods and hardware stocks
declined during March from those on hand at the end of February this year, but grocery and shoe
stocks increased somewhat during the past month.
Collections in groceries during March totaled 65.1 per cent of outstanding receivables as of March
1st. Drugs averaged 54.7 per cent of outstanding receivables collected during the month, while hard­
ware averaged 34.9 per cent, dry goods 32.4 per cent, shoes 25.1 per cent, and furniture 22.1 per cent.
These percentages are all lower than those of March 1927 except in dry goods, which averaged 29.1
per cent last year. Furniture showed the greatest change in percentage of collections to outstanding
receivables, declining from 39.5 per cent in March 1927 to 22.1 per cent in March 1928.




(Compiled April 21, 1928)

BUSINESS CONDITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
(Compiled by the Federal Reserve Board)
p re t
ecn

Index numbers of production of manufactures and minerals, adjusted
for seasonal variations (1923-1925 average ' 100). Latest figures,
Maroh, manufactures H I , minerals 104.

Index of United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (1926 * 100, base
adopted by Bureau). Latest figure, March 96.
DILUONS OF DOLLARS
10

BILLIONS OF DOLLARS

,Uoathly averages of weekly figures for banks in 101 leading cities.
Latest figures are averages for first 3 weekly report dates in April.
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS

BILLIONS OF DOLLARS

2

2

U Sc ritie
.S eu s

1925

Discounts for
Member Banfcs

1926

1927

Monthly averages of daily figures for 12 Federal Reserve banka.
Latest figure* are averages of first 23 days in April.




Industrial production during March was in about the same
volume as in February and there was a seasonal increase in the
distribution o f commodities. Wholesale prices remained practically
unchanged. During the past month there have been increases in
bank credit in use and in member bank borrowing at the reserve
banks, and open market money rates have shown further advances.
PRODUCTION* Production of manufactures was maintained
during March at the high level reached in February, and the output
of minerals also showed littlt change. Production of passenger
automobiles and trucks during March totaled 413,000, the largest
output recorded for any month since August 1926, and production
schedules in automobile plants continued large in April. Activity
in the iron and steel industry was also maintained at a high level
during March and April, and lumber production was in larger vol­
ume than a year ago. Cotton and wool consumption declined in
March, but silk deliveries were the largest on record. There was
some decline in meat-packing and in the production of sole leather,
and the output of boots and shoes in March showed less than the
usual seasonal increase. Mining of bituminous coal decreased during
March by less than the usual seasonal amount, but as the result of
a strike in certain middle Western mines, production in the early
weeks of April was considerably curtailed. Building contracts
awarded were smaller in March than a year ago, while those for
the first three weeks in April were in about the same volume as
in the corresponding period of last year. As a result of large con­
tracts during the first two months of this year, total awards for
the year to April 20th exceeded those for the same period of 1927.
Contracts for residential buildings and for public works have been
especially large.
TRADE. Sales of wholesale firms increased less than usual
in March, and were somewhat smaller than in the same month of
last year. Sales of department stores, on the other hand, after
allowance is made for customary seasonal changes and the early
date of Easter, were about the same in March as in the preceding
month and in March 1927. Stocks of merchandise carried in March
by wholesale firms were larger, while those of department stores
were smaller, than at this time last year.
The volume of freight car loadings showed more than the
usual seasonal increase in March, but declined in the first two
weeks of April. Loadings continued smaller than a year ago, for
all classes of commodities except grains and livestock.
PRICES. The general level of wholesale commodity prices
showed little change in March, the index of the Bureau of Labor
Statistics declining slightly from 96.4 per cent to 96.0 per cent of
the 1926 average. There were decreases in the prices of livestock,
dairy products, meats, coal and rubber; prices of grains, cattle,
feed, cotton and steel, on the other hand, advanced. During the
first three weeks in April there were further substantial increases
in the prices of grains and more moderate advances in flour, hogs,
cotton and lumber, while prices of cattle and rubber declined.
BAN K CREDIT. Between March 21st and April 18th, total
loans and investments of member banks in leading cities increased
by about $410,000,000, reaching the highest level on record. The
advance was largely in loans on securities, which showed an increase
of nearly $300,000,000 and in April were close to the high point
of the first of the year. Loans for commercial purposes continued
the increase which began in February and notwithstanding a small
decline during the last week of the period were nearly $350,000,000
larger on April 18th than at the end of January.
The volume of reserve bank credit in use increased by $180,000,000 during the five weeks ending April 25th, reflecting increased
reserve requirements of member banks, and a further net outflow
of gold amounting to more than $50,000,000. Reserve bank hold­
ings of securities were reduced by about $80,000,000 during the
period, while discounts for member banks increased by $230,000,000. Acceptance holdings also showed a small increase.
A firmer tendency in the money market was evidenced at the
end of March and during April by further increases in rates on
call and time loans on securities, and by increases from 4-4 %
per cent to 4% per cent in the rates on commercial paper and
from 3V2 per cent to 3% per cent in the rate on 90 day bankers’
acceptances. Between April 20th and April 25th, discount rates
were raised from 4 to 4 ^ per cent at the Boston, Chicago, St.
Louis, Richmond and Minneapolis Federal Reserve Banks.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102