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Back-to-School Helps Same-Store Sales

Helped by the waning days of a back-to-school selling season that met, but not exceeded, retailers' expectations, same-store retail sales improved 3.4 percent during the second week of September, gaining on a 3 percent increase the week before, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales were up 0.5 percent over the same two-week period in August, ahead of a targeted gain of 0.3 percent.

“Back-to-school business continued to be a primary sales driver in the second week, which included Labor Day, as the season approached its peak selling period,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. “Some retailers said the back-to-school season has peaked and others said the back-to-school effects will continue to be felt into October as Hurricane Katrina has delayed the back-to-school shopping in affected locations.”

Levis said, “Retailers said the holiday, while positive, was in line with expectations but did not particularly exceed forecasts.” Retailers, she noted, “are not especially ambitious for September business mainly due to the hurricane distraction as well as rising gasoline prices.”

Department store comps improved 3 percent, building on a 2.7 percent increase the week before. “The strength at department stores suggests consumers were focusing on higher-priced seasonal apparel, while the discount stores in our model generally reported strong activity in other merchandise categories such as food and household basics.”

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of September

WEEK ENDED 9/3 9/10 9/17 9/24 10/1 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.7 3.0 2.8 2.8
Discounters 3.2 3.8 3.5 3.3
Redbook Index 3.0 3.4 3.2 3.1

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