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Final week skews April sales results

NEW YORK — Retail sales slacked off during the fourth week of April, most notably in department stores, leaving sales for all of last month slightly below plan and up just 2.5 percent from year-ago levels

The Redbook Retail Sales Average recorded a 2.5 percent same-store sales gain for the month, modestly off of a targeted increase of 2.7 percent. April sales ended up just 0.8 percent ahead of March, compared with a target of 1.0 percent.

"The pullback in the final week was primarily due to lower performance by department stores," which posted a decline of 1.5 percent, said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. Sales remained stronger in the big mass merchant channel, moving up by 3.6 percent.

"Discount stores reported an uptick in sales of seasonal goods led by women's apparel, footwear and sporting goods as warmer temperatures moved in across the country," said Levis. "Sales of home appliances and lawn & garden equipment also did well. Regionally, the Northeast remained generally stronger."

Looking ahead, May is a four-week month ending June 2, and contains two shopping events, Mother's Day and Memorial Day. "Year-over-year comparisons during May are favorable due to the fact that Memorial Day falls a week earlier this year," said Levis. "This will sweep some business into fiscal May from June. The impact, however, is fairly limited, and the favorable effect may be countered by retailers adjusting expectations downward following a weaker-than-expected April."

Levis said her initial target for May is for "a year-over-year gain of 3.1 percent, which generates a month-to-month gain of 1.4 percent."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Fourth Week of April

Week Ended 4/14 4/21 4/28 5/5 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* 0.3 0.2 0.0 -1.5 -0.3 0.1
Discounters 4.4 3.9 3.1 3.6 3.8 3.9
Redbook Average 3.1 2.7 2.1 2.0 2.5 2.7


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