Comps Start November Under Negative Goal

Retailers in the first retail week of November struggled to keep up with a negative comp-store sales target, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Even measured against the modest retail advances of the past several years, the 1.0% drop in comp sales for the opening week of November was an ill omen for the holiday season.

Retailers' targeted 0.5% comp drop for the four-week retail month is the first negative comp goal the Index has established since March 2003.

Discounters made some headway, with a 3.7% gain in the week, but that was well short of their planned 4.4% gain for the month. Department stores, clearly the big drag on the Index, only have to post a comp drop of 8.0% to make their target — but they started the month short of that, with an 8.3% drop in the first week.

"Business was soft as the country focused on national elections," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Sales forecasts for this month and next take into account calendar consideration, which may color results. Notably, stores following NRF [National Retail Federation] guidelines will post lower comps in November and boost December sales. The calendar shift will cause seven fewer days of post-Thanksgiving holiday sales in November, likely resulting in less holiday-related gift purchases in late November compared to last year."

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of November, year-over-year % change

Week ended 11/8 11/15 11/22 11/29 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -8.3 -8.3 -8.0
Discounters 3.7 3.7 4.4
Redbook Average -1.0 -1.0 -0.5

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