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Retailers close out January on gloomy note  

Week ended 1/10 1/17 1/24 1/31 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -9.1  -9.8 -9.4 -10.8 -9.8 -9.0
Discounters 2.1 1.9  1.7 1.9 1.9 2.3
Redbook Index -1.9 -2.3 -2.3 -2.7 -2.3 -1.8



New York – The final week of January – and the 52nd and final week in most retailers’ fiscal year – ended with a disappointing 2.7% comp-store sales dip, the Johnson Redbook reported today.

For the month, the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was down 2.3% vs. the goal of a 1.8% drop.

The negative comp-store mark in January was the third consecutive negative monthly comp sales measure posted by the Index.

Until now, said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis, in response to a query by HTT, “We have never had three consecutive months of negative year-over-year change since the Index began in 1964.”

Discounters finished the month with a tepid comp gain of 1.9%, but department stores posted an icy 9.8% comp drop. The disparity between the channels has been extreme of late, as consumers have diverted less and less of their strained household budgets into discretionary spending.

“Most retailers ended January on a weak note,” said Levis. “Sales in the final week were adversely affected by winter storms across the country causing power outages, snarling traffic and forcing businesses to close. Meanwhile, Super Bowl Sunday drove sales of snack foods and beverages.”

Of the four-week February retail month, Levis noted, “The month's retail calendar includes the arrival of spring merchandise in stores and promotional programs for Valentine's Day and President Day. Our preliminary target is for a year-over-year same store growth of -2.3%.” She said the goal could be revised.

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