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Redbook retail sales inch upward

Retail sales picked up modestly during the second week of June, given a lift by the Father's Day holiday, but still remained below plan for the week and month-to-date as cool weather across much of the nation dampened sales of apparel and other warm-weather goods.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average rose by 1.3 percent during the second week, gaining modestly over a 1.2 percent gain the prior week. And for the first two weeks of June, cumulative same-store sales were up by 1.3 percent, but still missed the target of a 1.5 percent increase. Both discounters and department store missed their month-to-date targets. Discounter sales for the first two week of June rose by 2.6 percent, just off the target of 2.8 percent. But department store same-store sales fell by 1.0 percent, further than a smaller, forecast drop of 0.6 percent.

"Sales were mixed to modestly firmer," but not as strong as expected, said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Father's Day sales promotions were a major draw for some general merchants, attracting customers to stores resulting in an increase in customer counts. "Classifications showing the best increases at the discounters were food, horticultural items, consumables, electronics and health and beauty aids."

But unseasonably cool weather hurt other categories, she noted. "Sales of real hot weather commodities, such as fans, air conditioners and summer wear, in addition to men's wear, were below expectations."

Peering through the clouds to a possible silver lining, Levis said, "the slight increase in momentum set the stage for possible additional gains going forward and left retailers cautiously optimistic for the remainder of the month. Retailers see their industry improving due to a combination of warmer weather ahead, falling gasoline prices, low mortgage rates and expectations of an interest-rate cut, which they feel will help to bolster consumer confidence."

Canvassing sales across the country, Levis said, "Regionally, the Eastern and Mid-Atlantic regions were said to be the most active business environments."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Second 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 -0.9 -1.0 -0.6
Discounters 2.6 2.7 2.6 2.8
Redbook Average 1.2 1.3 1.3 1.5

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