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Retailers Enjoy Calm After Storm

Getting past last month's hurricanes and flooding, and helped by increased traffic, same-store sales got off to a stronger start during October, rising 2.8 percent over year-before levels, slightly ahead of a planned 2.7 percent gain, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales were 0.8 percent behind September levels, compared with a targeted decline of 0.9 percent.

“Sales were mixed in the first week of October, on to modestly above plan at most stores,” said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “Gains came mainly from increased traffic rather than from larger than average purchases. A common theme was September's post-hurricane weakness, which has ended, and the fact that October is off to a firmer start.”

October, Levis pointed out, “is the final month of the third quarter for most retailers and, since fall seasonal sales have so far been disappointing, an important period for retailers, which are struggling to meet quarterly sales and earnings targets.”

The analyst noted, “The month includes the buildup to Halloween, which falls two days later this year than last year, a timing shift that could push some Halloween business out of October and into November. However, the effect will be relatively minor overall, and also selective, since some retailers make only minimal concessions to this increasingly popular celebration.”

Department store business was on plan during the week, edging up 1.4 percent.

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
First week of October

Week ended 10/9 10/16 10/23 10/30 month target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 1.4 1.4 1.4
Discounters 3.7 3.7 3.7
Redbook Average 2.8 2.8 2.7

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