Sales Look Good at September Finish Line

New York — Helped by cooler weather and a last-minute pick-up in sales of seasonal apparel, same-store retail sales firmed up during the fifth and final week of September, rising by 3.5 percent, and improving on a smaller 2.9 percent increase the week before, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

But the 11th hour sales bump wasn't enough to take sales for all of September much ahead of plan for the entire month, and a five-week gain of 3.2 percent barely edged ahead of a goal of a 3.1 percent increase.

For all of September, department store sales met their expectations with sales of 2.8 percent. And discounters modestly exceeded plan with a gain of 3.5 percent versus a target of 3.3 percent.

“Sales were firmer in the final week of September compared to the previous week,” said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “Coming in the final week of a five-week month, the improvement was too little and too late to raise the month-to-date average.”

Some retailers, Levis noted, “said the firmer tone was caused by cooler, more fall-like temperatures in many parts of the country, although not all agreed with this view. Cooler weather would be good news for department stores in particular, as it should drive sales. Discounters, who consistently rely on consumable business, have typically done far better and remained on to slightly above their sales targets.”

Looking head to October, Levis said, “As retailers enter the final month of their third quarter, some are either voicing concern about meeting their quarterly targets or revising them. October is a four-week month ending Oct. 29. Columbus Day in the second week matches the timing of the year-ago holiday and presents no comparison issues.”

Johnson Redbook Index
Fifth week of September

WEEK ENDED 9/3 9/10 9/17 9/24 10/1 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.7 3.0 2.7 2.6 2.9 2.8 2.8
Discounters 3.2 3.8 3.5 3.1 3.9 3.5 3.3
Redbook Index 3.0 3.4 3.2 2.9 3.5 3.2 3.1

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