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Comps Lagging Goals in January

Same-store retail sales sagged further in the second week of January, with the month-to-date gain of 0.8% trailing the targeted rise of 1.1%, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Comps for the second week were up 0.7% following a rise of 0.9% in the first week. Both upstairs and downstairs merchants lagged behind their goals at mid-month.

The four-week retail month ends on Saturday, Feb. 2, and January is the final month of the fiscal year for most retailers.

"Year-end clearances dominated sales activity and soft goods outperformed hard goods," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Among volume leaders, some stores reported increased business in cold weather apparel in response to lower temperatures."

"Sales leader lists were mixed in the second week, driven by store specials and inventory management, as is typical in a transitional environment," she remarked. "Consumer basics, clearance apparel and electronics were all featured. Retailers prepared to move in spring merchandise this month, sooner than usual, as Easter falls two weeks earlier this year."

Levis concluded, "Retailers are very cautious by keeping their inventories tight for spring and summer until they see evidence that the economy is growing again."

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

Week ended 1/12 1/19 1/26 2/2 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -0.3 -0.6 -0.5 -0.3
Discounters 1.6 1.4 1.5 1.9
Redbook Index 0.9 0.7 0.8 1.1


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