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Same-Store Sales Beating Plan

Hit by cold, wet weather and rising gas prices, same-store retail sales slowed modestly during the fourth week of March from their strong pace the week before, but still came in ahead of plan for the four weeks month to date, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Helped by strong sales at the nation's big discounters, sales advanced 3.9 percent during the week, off the faster pace of 4.3 percent growth recorded the preceding week. But even so, sales through the first four weeks of March had risen 3.9 percent, squeaking past a target of 3.8 percent growth.

“Sales results for the week were mixed,” said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “The heavily weighted discount stores lifted on strong business in basic goods while department stores softened, noting they had seen less of a pickup into the Easter weekend in seasonal apparel than expected.”

The softness, Levis added, “was mostly due to cold and wet weather in many parts of the country. Perhaps higher gasoline prices left less money to shop and shifted consumers' attention away from seasonal apparel and toward food, candy and consumer basics. The month in aggregate remains slightly ahead of plan.”

The analyst noted, “Most retailers prefer a late Easter holiday since weather is likely to be more Spring-like. This year's Easter was the earliest since 1989, falling three weeks earlier than last year. Retailers suggest smoothing the Easter distortion by simply averaging March and April performance. In the coming weeks, retailers are hoping that warm weather and tax refunds will spark sales.”

Johnson Redbook Index
Fourth week of March

Week ended 3/5 3/12 3/19 3/26 4/2 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.4 2.6 2.7 2.5 2.6 2.5
Discounters 4.5 4.6 5.3 4.9 4.8 4.7
Redbook Average 3.7 3.8 4.3 3.9 3.9 3.8

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