In 1997, Michigan had 16,060 wholesale establishments, with sales of $165 billion. Leading categories were motor vehicles and automobile parts and supplies (accounting for nearly one-fifth of all sales by value), groceries, metals and minerals, and machinery.
In 1997, Michigan's 55,276 retail establishments had sales of $97 billion, 7th among the states. The Detroit–Ann Arbor–Flint area had retail sales accounting for about half of the state's total. The importance of retail sales to the economy was greatest in northern Michigan. Of the total, food stores accounted for 12% of all establishments; automotive dealers and service stations, 13%; and restaurants and bars, 30%. Retail sales in food stores came to $13 billion in 1997 while general merchandise sales came to $16 billion.
With its ports open to oceangoing vessels through the St. Lawrence Seaway, Michigan is a major exporting and importing state for foreign as well as domestic markets. Exports of Michigan's manufactured goods totaled $29 billion in 1998, 5th in the US.