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Consumers Begin to Eye Back-to-School

The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index rose 1.5% in the first week of August, and was up 1.5% compared to August of last year.

Month-over-month, the index fell 1.9% below July, compared to a target 1.8% drop.

Although sales were slightly below plan during the opening shopping week of the month, shoppers were pursuing summer clearance sales, although starting to turn their attention to fresh back-to-school merchandise, according to Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"At this point most stores are in mid-transition between summer clearance and back-to-school," she said. "The full impact of back-to-school will not be seen until later this month, or early September."

The discount sector outperformed its 3.9% target for the month by posting a 4.4% sales gain during the month's first week. Discount volume was driven by consumables, especially food and some back-to-school items, said Levis.

Overall, tax-free holidays in a number of states also boosted volume, she added. Those states were Alabama, District of Columbia, Tennessee and Virginia.

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of August, year-over-year % change

Week ended 8/9 8/16 8/23 8/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -3.4 -3.4 -2.2
Discounters 4.4 4.4 3.9
Redbook Index 1.5 1.5 1.6


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