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Retail sales skewed by calendar shift

As retailers geared toward what they hoped would be an onrush of shoppers for the holidays, same-store sales, as measured by the Redbook Retail Sales Average, registered their second straight weekly drop for the third week of November. Comp-store sales were down 0.6 percent for the week ended Nov. 23, following a 0.5 percent decline for the previous week.

For the month to date, same-store checkouts were flat compared with the same period in 2001. Measured against October of this year, comp-store numbers were off 0.2 percent.

Redbook reported that the retail sales environment was less prosperous for the third week of November, compared to the second week. Much of this is attributable to the fact that this year's period compared with last year's Thanksgiving week. Redbook noted that this is why some retailers have recommended combining November and December sales to give a true indication of how sales are doing during the season.

Home products proved to be among the leaders in retail merchandise during November's third week. "In this relatively trendless environment," Redbook said, "sales leaders again focused on non-seasonal merchandise from consumer staples to home-related goods."

Once again, discounters fared better last week than department stores. Redbook reported that the nation's mass merchants boosted their same-store results by 1.4 percent, while department stores saw their comp-store sales drop 3.5 percent.

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Third week of November

Week ended 11/9 11/16 11/23 11/30 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department stores* -0.6 -4.0 -3.5 -2.7 -2.2
Discounters 2.2 1.9 1.4 1.8 1.8
Redbook Average 1.0 -0.5 -0.6 -0.0 0.2


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