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Comps sluggish in December's second week

New York - Same-store sales rose 2.9% year-over-year in the second week of December following a 3.2% gain the prior week, according to The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.


Month-to-date, December was up 3.1% compared to December of last year. Redbook's target for the month is a 3.6% gain. On a to-date basis, month-over-month showed a 2.8% drop compared to November, relative to a target of a 2.3% drop.


Comps in the discount channel rose 3.3%, slightly off the prior week's 3.5% increase. In the department store segment, same-store sales were up 2.2% for the week compared to a 2.7% increase during the previous week.


Retailers said they had entered the expected "soft middle" of the holiday season, said Catlin Levis, as the slower sales and slackened customer traffic seen in the first week of December carried through most of the second week.


Online shopping and gift cards "have made it easier for people to delay holiday shopping, shifting sales to the period after the holiday season," she added.


The majority of gift cards are purchased during the week before Christmas - a trend retailers said continues to grow. But gift card sales don't get recorded as sales revenue until the cards are used.


"Holiday shopping should be helped by one more [shopping] day before Christmas compared to last year," Levis said.


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