Cold snap clears out merchandise

Don Hogsett, Staff Staff, February 16, 2004

Same-store retail sales remained strong — and virtually on target —during the first week of February, as an East Coast cold snap helped stores clear out leftover winter apparel, The Redbook Average reported.

Same-store sales advanced by 4.4 percent over year-before levels, close to their target of a 4.5 percent increase. Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales rose 0.4 percent over the first week of January, compared with a target of 0.5 percent.

"Most retailers were running on, to slightly below, their February plans by the end of the first week," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Business subsided from January's torrid closing levels, but remained relatively buoyant as retailers shifted their seasonal focus to spring merchandise."

Persistent cold weather across much of the Eastern seaboard "helped to clear out any excess Winter apparel left on the retail shelves," Levis added.

"February in general is a transitional month, like January, with the merchandising emphasis on winter clearances ahead of spring restocking," Levis commented. "Favorable comparisons with the previous February should give the month an additional sales boost along with a residual effect of consumer redemption of gift certificates."

Sales were strongest in the Northeast, followed by the Mid-Atlantic states.

February, the analyst noted, "is the start of the first quarter of the traditional retail calendar, and is typically the smallest month of the quarter in terms of sales volume."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
First week of February

Week ended 2/7 2/14 2/21 2/28 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Research Inc.
Department stores* 3.1 3.1 3.3
Discounters 5.2 5.2 5.3
Redbook Average 5.5 4.4 4.5

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