June unkind to same-store sales

With traffic at the malls subsiding steadily throughout the month, same-store sales came in well beneath plan for the fifth and final week of June, producing lackluster results for the entire month, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

The month got off to a relatively strong start, with sales advancing 5.2 percent over year-before levels during the opening week of June. But as the month limped along to a sub-par conclusion, sales growth slowed to a 3.3 percent gain during the closing week. Same-store sales for the entire month rose 4.2 percent, falling substantially beneath a targeted gain of 5.1 percent. Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales for all of June declined 0.2 percent from May, compared with a target of a 0.6 percent increase.

"Sales were below plan in the final week of June, making for a disappointing, though not particularly surprising, sub-performing month," commented Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. "The tone was set in the third week, when sales came in below target and did not recover after Father's Day."

And July could provide a choppy ride as well, the analyst pointed out. "Looking ahead, July, which is a four-week month ending July 31, is a transitional, clearance-driven month, and weekly sales volatility is to be expected as stores clear summer goods to restock for the fall," she said.

And after a surprisingly weak Father's Day sales event, Levis raised the troubling prospect that the important back to school season could be hobbled by disruptions at the nation's ports, delaying the flow of imported product onto store shelves.

The Redbook analyst said, "The United States Coast Guard denied and detained vessels failing to comply with the new International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which took effect July 1. The code raised some concerns among importers and retailers about the potential disruption and delay of imports for back-to-school merchandise."

Levis said her preliminary July target is for year-over-year same-store sales growth of 4 percent, which, if met, would generate a 0.7 percent improvement over June.

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
Fifth week of June

Week ended 6/5 6/12 6/19 6/26 7/03 Month Target
Department stores* 3.3 2.9 3.1 2.7 2.9 3.0 3.2
Discounters 6.4 6.0 5.8 3.5 3.6 5.0 6.3
Redbook Index 5.2 4.8 4.7 3.2 3.3 4.2 5.1
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index

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