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Comps Sagging in July Heat

As heat waves kept consumers tethered to their air-conditioned homes, and gas prices pressed lower-income families, same-store retail sales were below target during the third week of July, up just 2.1%, the Johnson Redbook Index reported. Month-to-date, sales were up 2.6%, missing a target of 3.2%.

The Fourth of July holiday got things off to a strong 3.5% start, but sales have been sluggish since. Hardest hit during a transitional month of inventory clearing were department stores, where sales edged ahead by 1.7% during the third week. Discounters, relying on consumables, fared better, with a 2.1% gain.

“Some retailers said it was too hot to shop, and that heat waves across most of the country were keeping people away from stores,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.” Looking ahead, she said, “By mid-August back-to-school demand is expected to inject some life into retailers. In the most recent period, retailers continued to focus on clearing summer goods and bringing in back-to-school merchandise.”

Levis noted, “Retailers in 13 states are gearing up for the sales-tax holidays.” Some saw a pick-up in business in Florida with the Saturday sales-tax holiday kickoff for July 22-30.

Johnson Redbook Index
Third week of July, year-over-year % change

Week ended 7/8 7/15 7/22 7/29 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 3.0 2.2 1.7 2.3 2.8
Discounters 3.7 2.4 2.3 2.8 3.4
Redbook Average 3.5 2.4 2.1 2.6 3.2

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