After Easter, same-store sales slow

Coming off a strong Easter shopping season, same-store retail sales continued to weaken slightly during the third week of April, rising 4.7 percent following gains of 5.4 percent and 4.8 percent during the first two weeks of the month, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Mixed weather conditions around the country also had a dampening effect on sales of seasonal apparel, putting some downward pressure on overall sales results.

Measured on a month-over-month basis, same-store sales were down 2.3 percent from February levels, exceeding a targeted decline of 1.8 percent.

Department stores sales improved slightly, rising 3.9 percent, compared to a 3.8 percent gain the prior week. Discounters lost ground, gaining 5.1 percent following a 5.5 percent increase the preceding week.

"The week's performance continued the softening trend which has been apparent since the week after Easter, when our retailer sample fell behind plan," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis.

Skewing results a bit was a shift in this year's calendar, and an earlier holiday, Levis commented. "Since Easter was one week earlier than last year, year-over-year comparisons pulled more sales volume into March. In April, the comparison is reversed," weakening this month's picture.

Some retailers, Levis noted, are concerned about higher gasoline prices and increasing freight and shipping costs.

"In the meantime, weather conditions were varied across the country, sunny and warm in some regions, but unseasonably cool in others. Stores relying on spring-driven apparel sales reported mixed results for the week, depending on their regional weightings. Performance in the Midwest was generally disappointing, primarily due to poor weather, although there were exceptions. With one week to go, April is expected to remain below our sample's forecast," which calls for growth of 5.4 percent for the entire month, she said.

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
Third week of April

Week ended 4/10 4/17 4/24 5/1 Month Target
Department stores* 4.0 3.8 3.9 3.9 4.1
Discounters 6.2 5.5 5.1 5.6 6.3
Redbook Average 5.4 4.8 4.7 4.9 5.4
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index

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