Discounters sales above plan, again

Don Hogsett, Staff Staff, July 13, 2001

New York — Sales at the nation's big discounters remained sturdy during the fifth and final week of June, beating plan for a third straight week, but sales at department stores remained weak, according to the Redbook Retail Sales Average.

Same-store sales at mass merchants climbed by 4.1 percent from year-ago levels during the final week of June, while department store sales dropped off by 2.8 percent.

Hampered by weakness at department stores, combined retail sales advanced by 1.4 percent from prior-year levels, slightly shy of a target of 1.5 percent. Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales were off by 1.3 percent from May levels, compared with a targeted decline of 1.2 percent.

"Our model finished the month marginally below its monthly plan," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Fourth of July sales were generally considered disappointing, as a slowing U.S. economy, volatile stock markets and higher energy costs kept shoppers at bay."

Scoping business out by channel, Levis observed, "Discounters have been luring increasingly price-conscious consumers away from department stores. This will force department stores into deeper markdowns to clear spring and summer inventory in July and ensure a fresh flow of fall merchandise receipts. Leading categories at department stores were home appliances, home furnishings and hardware. At discounters, consumers continue to focus on more basic items, such as food and consumables."

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