Father's Day fails to bring shoppers

Hampered by a weak Father's Day sales event, same-store retail sales cooled modestly for a second straight week from their stronger pace at the beginning of the month, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Same-store sales improved 4.7 percent during the third week of June, slightly behind the 4.8 percent gain the prior week, and the even bigger 5.2 percent increase during the first week of the month. For the three weeks month-to-date, sales increased 4.9 percent over prior-year levels, modestly behind a targeted gain of 5.1 percent. Measured on a month-to-month basis, sales rose 0.4 percent above May levels, missing a target of 0.6 percent sales growth.

Department stores gained the most from the holiday, with sales improving 3.1 percent, following a 2.9 percent increase the preceding week. But sales at the nation's mass merchants continued to report slowing growth, 5.8 percent for the third week of June, down from 6 percent the prior week, and 6.4 percent during the opening week.

"Father's Day business was mediocre," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. "It appears the event has declined in importance and no longer plays as crucial a role for the season. Some retailers are complaining that higher gasoline prices are slowing consumer spending."

And discounters say that consumers are starting to feel squeezed by cash-flow problems, Levis said. "Discount merchants noted that the payroll cycle had again become evident in their business, with sales volume increasing after people received their bimonthly wage checks. This is typically caused by consumer illiquidity," she said.

The most active merchandise categories, said Levis, were consumer staples, garden, home improvement equipment, toys and food. Regional sales patterns varied by retailer, but on balance sales were strongest in the West.

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
Third week of June

Week Ended 6/5 6/12 6/19 6/26 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.3 2.9 3.1 3.1 3.2
Discounters 6.4 6.0 5.8 6.0 6.3
Redbook Index 5.2 4.8 4.7 4.9 5.1

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