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‘Bargain hunting’ drives August comps past goal  

Week ended 8/9 8/16 8/23 8/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -3.4  -4.1 -3.8  -3.3 -3.7 -2.2
Discounters 4.4  4.5  5.3  5.7 5.0 3.9
Redbook Index 1.5  1.3 1.9  2.3 1.7 1.6

New York – For only the third time in 2008, the monthly year-over-year performance of the Johnson Redbook same-store sales index beat its goal in August, with comps up 1.7%, just edging out the 1.6% comp goal.

Redbook reported today that major gains by discounters, rolling higher in each of the four weeks of the retail month, pushed the mass channel to a 5.0% year-over-year comp gain, well above the 3.9% target, and enough to lift the overall measure in spite of utterly lackluster performance by the department store chains.

Retailers overall have missed their comp goals in each month this year except May, July and August, according to Redbook. Meanwhile, margin yield continues to suffer.

“Last minute back-to-school shopping and bargain hunting boosted sales for the week,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. “Retailers reported strength in back-to-school categories such as school supplies and children's apparel.”

“In anticipation of Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf Coast regions, customers made a run on food, water, batteries and other emergency supplies, ramping up business at stores which stock those supplies. Discount stores were the main beneficiaries. Elsewhere, discount stores also registered strong food sales ahead of the Labor Day weekend,” she said.

“Looking forward, our preliminary target for September is 1.1% year-over-year, or a month-to-month decline of 1.5%,” Levis said. “September is a five-week month on the retail calendar ending on Saturday, Oct. 4.”

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