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Discounters closer to goal in March comps

Same-store sales picked up a bit of ground in both upstairs and downstairs chains in the second week of March, but month-to-date comps still trailed targets, the Johnson Redbook reported.

The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index was down 1.1% in the week ended March 14, for a month-to-date drop of 1.2%, below the goal of a 0.8% drop. Month-over-month comps were flat relative to February, trailing the targeted 0.4% gain.

Discount chains continue their modest positive performance, with consumers still stocking up on commodities while shunning the fashion aisles. Department stores remain mired in their months-long negative comp zone.

"Warmer weather in parts of the country was a primary sales driver in the second week," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Retailers reported that sales picked up in a range of seasonal product categories, from spring apparel to sports equipment and gardening tools. Meanwhile, store shelves are stocked with Irish tunes, books and clothing in anticipation of the St. Patrick's Day celebration."

Levis added, "Discount stores, with their more diverse lines, saw firm business in consumer basics such as food and household supplies."

Johnson Redbook Index
Second week of March, year-over-year % change

WEEK ENDED 3/7 3/14 3/21 3/28 4/4 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -8.7 -8.4 -8.6 -7.9
Discounters 2.9 3.3 3.1 3.4
Redbook Index -1.4 -1.1 -1.2 -0.8


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