Same-Store Sales Limp to End of April

New York — With the nation's big discounters turning in a surprisingly poor performance, hurt by weather that chilled sales of spring apparel, and further hobbled by high gas prices, same-store retail sales limped ahead just 1.3 percent during the fourth and final week of April, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Softening steadily throughout the month, discounter sales edged up just 1.1 percent during the week, after starting the month on a stronger note with a 1.7 percent gain.

In a remarkable shift, department stores outperformed discounters during each of the four weeks of April, and during the closing week of the month pushed comps higher 1.5 percent.

Overall retail sales have weakened progressively through the month, and for all of April same-store sales edged up a skimpy 1.5 percent, missing a target of 1.9 percent growth. Discounter sales for all of April rose 1.4 percent, shy of a targeted gain of 1.8 percent. Department store sales, while stronger, still missed their target, with a monthly gain of 1.6 percent falling short of a 2.1 percent goal.

“The pullback in the fourth week was mostly due to poorer performance by discount stores, and our retail sample ended the month below target,” said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “The final week saw a continuation of the trend that has persisted throughout the month, as unseasonably cool weather dampened demand for spring goods. As a result, April was disappointing for many retailers.”

Looking ahead, May contains one major shopping event, Mother's Day, the analyst noted. “Our preliminary target for May, a four-week month on the retail calendar, is for year-over-year growth of 1.9 percent, resulting in a month-to-month gain against April of 1.2 percent.”

Johnson Redbook Index
Fourth week of April

Week ended 4/9 4/16 4/23 4/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 1.7 1.5 1.6 1.5 1.6 2.1
Discounters 1.7 1.5 1.4 1.1 1.4 1.8
Redbook Average 1.7 1.5 1.5 1.3 1.5 1.9

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