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April Showers Dampen Comp Gains

New York — Heavy rains and tornadoes in parts of the country kept shoppers at home and away from the malls, putting a cap on early Easter holiday spending; same-store retail sales, while rising, fell far short of expectations, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Retailers said sales fell short and missed their target, rising by 3.3% from year-ago levels, well short of a projected gain of 4.4%. Discounter sales shot up by 5.1% during the week, but not enough to meet the goal of 6.8% growth. Ditto department stores, where sales improved by 0.5%, but missed a target of 0.7%. Measured against the prior month, sales were up 3.1%, beneath the target of a 4.2% rise. Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said heavy rains and tornadoes “disrupted and put the brakes on seasonal business.” But in some regions, “warmer temperatures over the weekend have helped to stimulate sales.”

The unusually strong 3.3% boost in sales during the first week of March, the analyst said, “reflected the transition form the negative to the positive side of the Easter shift. Easter falls three weeks later this year than last, so the expected bulge in sales around the holiday will be accounted for in April, rather than in March. It will make April appear stronger than April last year, and also much stronger than March of this year.”

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

Week ended 4/8 4/15 4/22 4/29 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 0.5 0.5 0.7
Discounters 5.1 5.1 6.8
Redbook Average 3.3 3.3 4.4


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