December Comps Start Slow but Solid

Retailers reported a same-store sales gain of 1.6% in the first week of December, slowing from the 2.2% gain a week earlier — but the trend was ahead of the revised target of a 1.2% rise, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Month-over-month was 0.5% below November, also besting the targeted 0.8% drop. December is a five-week month on the retail calendar, ending Jan. 5, 2008.

“Sales in the first week of December were slightly above plan overall,” said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis, noting that with the earlier Hanukkah dates this year, retailers saw “more holiday related shopping during the week.”

On the other hand, with Thanksgiving having moved from the 2006 December period into the November frame for 2007 — and with “six fewer pre-Christmas shopping days this December vs. last year,” Levis projected “a significant negative distortion for certain retailers. These retailers will likely report weaker gains in December following a technically inflated November.”

The Redbook goals have been adjusted, with the December comp goal of just 1.2% featuring a comp fall of 1.5% for department stores, while discounters are targeted to notch a respectable 3.3% comp gain for the retail month.

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

WEEK ENDED 12/8 12/15 12/22 12/29 1/5 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Indext
Department stores* -0.9 -0.9 -1.5
Discounters 3.4 3.4 3.3
Redbook Index 1.6 1.6 1.2

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