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Redbook: Sales up in January's first week

New York -- The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was up 3.3% in the first week of January.

Month-to-date, January was up 3.3% compared to January of last year, relative to a target of a 2.9% gain. Month-over-month showed a 1.2% drop compared to December, relative to a target of a 1.6% drop.

January is a four- week month on the retail calendar, ending on January 28th.

Sales momentum carried into early January as gift cards continued to drive sales for the week, observed Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"Department stores noted that consumers were motivated by price," she said. "Some discounters reported that consumption had reverted to more normal patterns, with a focus on basic commodities and food. January clearance sales got under way as discounted winter goods thinned out to make room for full priced spring merchandise."

Clearance will be continue to the key theme in January, with most retailers planning to flow in new spring merchandise from about the middle of the month. Meanwhile, stores are also stocking up for Valentine's Day merchandise.

In observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 16, Redbook will release its scheduled Jan. 17 report instead on Jan. 18 at the usual time.

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