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Same-store sales finish strong

Closing out the month on an upbeat note, same-store retail sales sprinted ahead during the final week of May, helped by a run-up to Memorial Day and rising 4.6 percent, recovering from a slump the week before, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Helped by the rebound during the closing days, sales for all of May climbed 4.5 percent, coming close to a targeted 4.6 percent increase. Sales might have been even stronger, but were clipped by heavy rain in parts of the country.

Department store sales remained strong, helped by full-price sales of seasonal apparel and strong fashion assortments. Sales in the nation's department stores moved up 2.7 percent during the final week of May, and rose 2.6 percent for the entire month, easily beating a targeted 2.3 percent gain.

Discounter sales increased 5.8 percent, improving on a 5.2 percent gain the week before. For the four weeks month-to-date, sales at mass merchants rose 5.8 percent, lagging a target of 6.1 percent growth.

Measured on a month-over-month basis, May sales were 0.5 percent above April levels, slightly behind the target of 0.6 percent growth.

"Our model ended the month slightly below target," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. "The latest week included the run-up to this year's later Memorial Day holiday, creating a favorable calendar comparison to last year." But on the downside, said Levis, "The persistence of heavy rain in the Midwest and South caused many retailers in those areas to fall short of sales targets."

Going forward, "Seasonal demand is expected to continue to drive business through June, but will likely moderate in July, which is the transitional month ahead of fall re-stocking and the back-to-school period. Our preliminary plan for June is for year-over-year growth of 4.7 percent, leading to a month-to-month change against May of 0.2 percent," she said.

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
Fourth week of May

Week ended 5/8 5/15 5/22 5/29 Month Target
Department stores* 2.5 2.9 2.5 2.7 2.6 2.3
Discounters 6.1 6.0 5.2 5.8 5.8 6.1
Redbook Average 4.7 4.8 4.1 4.6 4.5 4.6
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index

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