March Comps Falter

Merchandisers that had picked up steam in mid-March seemed to run out of gas in the fourth week, with comparable-store sales up just 1.0% in the week ending March 29, for a month-to-date comp gain of 1.1% the Johnson Redbook reported.

The targeted comp gain of 1.4% for the five-week month thus shifted out of range, with segment goals likely to elude both discounters and department stores.

Month-over-month comps were 1.7% above February (compared to a targeted 2.0% gain). March was a five-week month on the retail calendar ending on Saturday, April 5.

"The week's sluggish performance reflected a combination of seasonal softness following Easter week sales," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Many stores were closed on Easter Sunday, aiming for tough comparisons against seven shopping days last year along with the Easter shift as stores began to go up against last year's pre-Easter shopping."

"Widespread wet and stormy weather dampened demand for apparel-intensive stores in comparison with more diversified retailers," Levis added. "The heavily weighted discount stores saw firm business in consumer basics such as food and household supplies."

Johnson Redbook Index
Fourth week of March, year-over-year % change

Week ended 3/8 3/15 3/22 3/29 4/5 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.1 0.5 0.9
Discounters 1.3 1.5 1.8 1.5 1.5 1.8
Redbook Index 1.0 1.1 1.4 1.0 1.1 1.4

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