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March Comps Start Soft

New York —Merchandisers continued to fall short of goals in March, with comparable store sales up 1.1% in the second week, for a month-to-date comp gain of 1.1% vs. the target of 1.4%, the Johnson Redbook reported.

The month-over-month comps are tracking 1.6% above February, compared to a targeted 2.0% gain, Redbook said. This five-week retail month will end April 5.

“During the week itself, sales were somewhat volatile day-to-day, largely the result of weather swings affecting customer traffic counts in different regions. Severe storms on late Friday across parts of the Southern states resulted in some store disruptions,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

“With the timing of this year's St. Patrick's Day and Easter so close together, retailers noticed shoppers seem to be spending less on St. Patrick's Day-related merchandise. Discount stores, with their more diverse lines, saw firm business in consumer basics such as food and household supplies. Meanwhile, sales levels are expected to rise into the [March 22-23] Easter weekend,” she said.

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

WEEK ENDED 3/8 3/15 3/22 3/29 4/5 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.9
Discounters 1.3 1.5 1.4 1.8
Redbook Average 1.0 1.1 1.1 1.4

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