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Promotions Maintain Comps

New York — Discounters are still beating department stores as October same store sales reporting reached the midpoint with an overall, on-goal 2.3% gain, the Johnson Redbook said.

But comps slowed to a 2.1% gain in the second week of the month, down from the 2.6% upswing in week one. Department stores were especially anemic, with a 1.5% comp gain, against the 2.5% climb by discounters.

October is tracking 0.2% below September, which is in line with the target.

Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said, “Sales pulled back following the Columbus Day promotional activity during the prior week with an especially slow week in apparel sales.”

While many retailers pointed to weather woes, said Levis, “There are some who are increasingly concerned that the weaker consumer fundamentals may be partly to blame.”

Added to that is the heavily promotional climate: “The strength in Halloween-related merchandise sales is coming as we get closer to the end of the month. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart Stores announced on October 18 that it reduced prices on 15,000 items this week including apparel, toys, electronics and holiday food supplies,” Levis noted. “Other retailers may follow suit and initiate more discounts as we head to the holiday season.”

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

WEEK ENDED 10/13 10/20 10/27 11/3 MONTH TARGET
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.1 1.5 1.8 2.1
Discounters 2.9 2.5 2.7 2.5
Redbook Average 2.6 2.1 2.3 2.3


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