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Comp Sales Fall Shy in July

Following a long stretch of the summer doldrums as consumers held on tight to their wallets and shunned the malls, same-store retail sales firmed up as July drew to a close, and rose by 2.8% during the fourth and final week of the month, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

But it wasn't enough to make up for earlier weakness, and July sales fell well short of their target, up 2.7%, shy of an expected gain of 3.2%.

Both channels made a stronger showing during the close, with department stores up 2.0%, improving on a 1.7% increase the week before. Discounters did even better, up 3.3% during the closing week, well ahead of the prior week's gain of 2.3%.

Both channels came up shy and missed their target for all of July, department stores being hardest hit, moving up by 2.2%, falling short of a hoped for 2.8% gain. With their reliance on day-to-day consumables that households need, discounters fared better, sales up 3.0%, against a target of 3.4%.

“The final week held few surprises as retailers finished out the small, transitional month of July,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. “Some reported a firmer tone in sales toward the weekend which they attributed to early back-to-school marketing campaigns. Heat waves across most of the country also boosted summer clearance. Florida merchants reported the tax-free holiday drew more store traffic than on a normal week.”

Hoping for more from the back-to-school season, the Redbook analyst said her preliminary sales target for the four-week month of August is a same-store increase of 3.5%, or about 0.5% ahead of July.

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

Week ended 7/8 7/15 7/22 7/29 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.0 2.2 1.7 2.0 2.2 2.8
Discounters 3.7 2.4 2.3 3.3 3.0 3.4
Redbook Average 3.5 2.4 2.1 2.8 2.7 3.2


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