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Weather Cools Same-Store Sales

Same-store retail sales cooled somewhat during the fourth week of September as persistently warm weather had a chilling effect on sales of cold-weather merchandise, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Same-store sales rose 2.9 percent, but that was beneath the prior-week gain of 3.2 percent, and well beneath an even stronger gain of 3.4 percent recorded during the second week of the month.

But helped by strength earlier during the month, same-store sales for the four weeks month-to-date remained on track, rising 3.1 percent and coming in on target.

Discounter sales rose 3.1 percent during the fourth week, backing off from stronger gains of 3.8 percent and 3.5 percent during the two preceding weeks. Department store sales rose 2.6, subsiding from gains in the two prior weeks of 3 and 2.7 percent.

“Sales slowed in the fourth week as consumers continued to avoid cool weather merchandise due to warm weather in most parts of the country,” said Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst. “Soft lines, especially seasonal apparel, were hit hardest. Once again, most department stores, except for upscale stores, were most affected given their proportionately greater exposure to apparel and other soft goods as sluggish sales, weak mall traffic and warm weather kept shoppers away.”

At the other end of the retail spectrum, said Levis, “Discount stores held up better on their broader merchandise bases, continuing to do reasonably good business in food, candles, water, air mattresses, flashlights, batteries, basic apparel, hardware and cleaning supplies, which were somewhat boosted by shoppers in the South and Southeast stocking up ahead of Hurricane Rita as well as the rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina.”

Meanwhile, Levis added, “Hurricane Rita, while helping with sales of certain items, disrupted overall sales in the Gulf Coast regions. The weather kept shoppers away from the nonessential venues, forced stores to close and caused actual property damage to some stores in the area.”

Painting a graying profit outlook for stores, the analyst added, “Many retailers failed to see the sales increase they had anticipated on the seasonal shift from summer to fall merchandise. If sales don't pick up, retailers are expected to markdown early in order to clear inventory and make room for holiday goods in October.”

Johnson Redbook Index
Third 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 2.7 2.6 3.6 2.8
Discounters 3.2 3.8 3.5 3.1 4.5 3.3
Redbook Index 3.0 3.4 3.2 2.9 3.1 3.1


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