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January Comps Nearly on Target

Same-store retail sales held relatively steady during the fourth week of January, rising by 2.7%, off slightly from the 2.8% pace the prior week as customer interest started moving away from clearance sales to everyday staples, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Through the four weeks month-to-date, sales climbed by 2.7%, just missing a targeted gain of 2.8% growth. Measured against the prior month, sales were up 1.6% from January levels, in line with the target.

"Sales performance pulled back slightly from the previous week's gain," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "In aggregate, our model remained slightly below the plan after the fourth week."

Weekly sales leader lists, the analyst said, "indicated a shift away from clearance categories toward more everyday items. Some department stores reported a shift away from core apparel and towards accessories, such as handbags. This shift is not untypical of the transitional month of January as retailers work down clearance inventories."

Levis said, "The changeover from winter to spring merchandise was said to be proceeding normally, with no unusual inventory issues." Some stores are making the transition to spring merchandise more slowly than usual, she noted, given consumers' increasing unwillingness to buy ahead of need. "This may mean a slow start to the spring season," she cautioned.

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

WEEK ENDED 1/6 1/13 1/20 1/27 2/3 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.0 2.6 2.9 2.9 2.8 2.9
Discounters 2.9 2.4 2.8 2.6 2.7 2.7
Redbook Index 2.9 2.5 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.8


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