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Holiday sales boost May numbers

Helped by Memorial Day sales events, same-store retail sales rose by 0.9 percent over year-ago levels during the fourth and final week of May, following an even bigger jump of 1.5 percent the week before.

Given the strength of the last two weeks, sales for May rose by 0.8 percent over last year, and ended up slightly ahead of target, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Sales for all of May declined by 2.7 percent from April, also in line with the target, said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"Sales for the week remained slightly above plan," said Levis, and "discount stores in particular saw firmer business in the last two weeks. Memorial Day weekend promotions helped most retailers to end May on plan."

Going forward, the analyst said, "Seasonal demand is expected to continue to drive business through June, but will likely moderate in July, the transitional month ahead of fall restocking and the back-to-school period."

Scoping out business by category, Levis said, "Seasonal merchandise was reported to be selling well where temperatures have been warm. Certain retailers reported strength in merchandise related to school graduation, such as women's wear, men's wear, footwear and jewelry accessories."

For all of May, discounters came in modestly ahead of target, 2.0 percent vs. 0.8 percent, boosted by results of the past two weeks. But department stores missed the mark, with sales slipping by 1.0 percent compared with a smaller targeted drop of 0.7 percent.

Looking ahead to June, Levis said she has set a preliminary target of 1.2 percent year-over-year sales growth, which would put June up about 0.8 percent from May.

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Fourth week of May

Week ended 5/10 5/17 5/24 5/31 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* -0.4 -1.3 -0.8 -1.6 -1.0 -0.7
Discounters 1.3 1.3 2.9 2.4 2.0 1.8
Redbook Average 0.7 0.3 1.5 0.9 0.8 0.8


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