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Summer breeze cools same-stores

Held in check by unseasonably cool summer weather, which chilled out sales of seasonal goods, same-store retail sales fell short of plan during the first week of June, rising by 1.2 percent from year-ago levels, but still falling short of a target of 1.5 percent growth.

Sales improved by 0.8 percent from the same week during March, but missed a targeted increase of 1.0 percent.

Both discounters and department stores came up short during the week. Discounter sales moved up by 2.6 percent, just missing a target of a 2.8 percent gain. And department sales fell by 1.1 percent, further than a forecast slide of 0.6 percent.

Most of the damage was done, as in recent weeks, by unseasonably cool weather. "Seasonal business was slower compared to last year as cooler weather depressed demand for seasonal merchandise such as air conditioners and fans as well as garden and home improvement equipment," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "With slightly less emphasis on seasonal buying, sales-leader lists were more mixed, led by basic consumables, food and health and beauty aids."

Some early Father's Day shopping provided a modest lift, the analyst noted. "Some retailers noticed that Father's Day buying was apparent especially in electronic categories including DVD players, cell phones and digital cameras, while poor results were shown in men's apparel." Merchants anticipated the full effect of the Father's Day event would be felt moving closer to the day, said Levis.

"There was evidence of a regional pattern, with the Northeast, South and West performing above average," Levis noted. "June represents the peak of seasonal business before traditional July clearance sales and therefore is a crucial month to most retailers. Weather will be key in terms of allowing stores to make up sales before margin-cutting clearance time."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
First week of June

Week ended 6/7 6/14 6/21 6/28 7/5 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department stores* -1.1 -1.1 -0.6
Discounters 2.6 2.6 2.8
Redbook Average 1.2 1.2 1.5


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