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Same-stores don't reflect confidence

Consumer confidence may be improving, but it hasn't shown up at the cash register yet; and same-store retail sales remained soft during the third week of April, their weakest performance of the month, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Overall sales edged up just 0.9 percent, well behind the 2.3 percent increase recorded the prior week, or the 2.0 percent gain put up during the first week of April.

Both department stores and discounters missed their sales targets, and overall sales for the three weeks month-to-date inched up by 1.9 percent, substantially behind a targeted increase of 2.9 percent.

Discounter sales advanced by 3.8 percent, slipping from a 4.4 percent increase the week before, and a strong 5.6 percent gain during the first week of April. Department stores performed poorly, sales down by 3.8 percent, weakening further from a 1.2 percent drop the preceding week.

"The week was the softest yet this month," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Most retailers in our sample fell short of plan for the week and continued to characterize sales for April to date as disappointing. The slowdown left many retailers off-plan or at the low end of targeted ranges month-to-date."

Putting something of a damper on sales, most stores were closed on Easter Sunday, said Levis, "and thus compared six shopping days against seven on a year-over-year basis." Additionally, "cooler weather curtailed seasonal apparel business, but some retailers were compensated by strength in basic consumables and hard lines such as electronics, toys and lawn and garden equipment."

Breaking business out by channel, Levis said, "the cool weather has primarily disadvantaged department stores with their comparatively high exposure to seasonal apparel. On a regional basis, several retailers said sales were strongest in the Midwest, followed by the East Coast."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Third week of April

Week ended 4/12 4/19 4/26 5/3 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* -3.8 -1.2 -3.8 -2.9 -1.8
Discounters 5.6 4.4 3.8 4.6 5.8
Redbook Average 2.0 2.3 0.9 1.7 2.9


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