August Comps Finish on Target

New York — Same-store retail sales improved by 3.5% during the final week of August, providing a boost that put sales for the entire month on target.

For all of August, same-store sales improved by an on-plan 3.3% over year-ago levels, the Johnson Redbook Index reported. Month-over-month, sales were up by 0.3%, also on target.

Benefiting most were the nation's big discounters, where sales during the closing week of August rose by 3.7%, beating the 3.3% increase the preceding week. Department store sales gained by 3.3% during the final week, ahead of the prior week's gain of 3.1%.

“Consumer interest in the final week was on back-to-school merchandise along with fall seasonal apparel, which for some retailers focused on higher-priced lines,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

Sales may also have got a lift from cooler weather in parts of the country and tax-free sales days in Connecticut and Maryland, the analyst said. But perhaps putting a cap on some sales, driving them into September, “Students are increasingly shopping later into the season for fall clothing after school begins in order to see what other students are wearing before they do their shopping,” she said.

Looking ahead, the analyst set a preliminary September sales target of a 3.8% gain over year-before levels, or flat sales when measured on a month-over-month basis.

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