December Comp Sales Slipping

New York — With shoppers trained like Pavlov’s dogs to wait for deeper discounts closer to the holiday, and with unseasonably warm weather chilling out apparel sales, consumers continued to bide their time, pushing same-store sales beneath plan for a second straight week, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Same-store sales rose by 2.5%, but through the first two weeks of the month, up by 2.5%, lagged a target of 2.9%.

Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said, “The unseasonably warm weather has people thinking about electronics rather than apparel...sales growth at discount stores continued to be strongest in food and basic consumables rather than in clothing.” At department stores, “consumers concentrated on accessories, shoes and handbags.”

The growing use of gift cards, the analyst noted, has a particularly depressing effect on pre-Christmas sales since revenue from gift cards isn’t counted until the cards are actually used after the holidays.

The calendar could provide something of a lift to the third week of December, said Levis, since Hanukkah begins on the 16th, earlier than last year.

Johnson Redbook Index
Second week of December, year-over-year % change

WEEK ENDED 12/2 12/9 12/16 12/23 12/30 MONTH TARGET
Department stores* 3.8 4.1 3.9 4.5
Discounters 1.4 1.3 1.3 1.8
Redbook Index 2.4 2.5 2.5 2.9

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