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Same-store sales heat up in June

After a May weakened by cool weather, retail sales got off to a strong start during the first week in June, with same-store sales heading up by almost 4 percent as sunny weather drew consumers out to the malls and spurred sales of seasonal merchandise.

The Redbook Retail Sales Average climbed by 3.9 percent over year-ago levels, easily besting a targeted goal of 3.0 percent growth. By comparison, same-store sales during the previous week, the final week of May, rose at a more anemic pace of 2.0 percent, chilled out by unseasonably cool weather. Sales for the month-to-date period rose by 2.3 percent above May levels, compared with a target of a 1.5 percent increase.

In a reversal of a year-long trend-line, even department store sales managed to outpace expectations — sales for the hard-hit full-price channel were still on the wane, but slipped by only 0.6 percent, compared with a forecast drop of 0.9 percent. With a 6.6 percent increase, discounters easily beat a target of 5.4 percent.

"Retailers said business picked up nationwide, as widespread warmer temperatures appeared finally to shift consumers toward long-awaited seasonal purchasing," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "Most retailers met or slightly exceeded plan, but some reported notably over-target performance. There was evidence of a regional pattern, with the Northeast and Midwest performing above average."

The analyst commented, "Hot weather was a dominant theme, driving demand for a broad range of summer goods, especially seasonal apparel, which appeared to be the primary concern for most consumers. The weather paradigm was evident at all formats and price-levels but particularly favored department stores, with their narrow merchandise focus, giving this group the biggest margin of out-performance for the week."

Looking ahead, said Levis, "June is a five-week month ending on Sat., July 6. June represents a peak of seasonal business ahead of clearance sales in July and is thus a crucial month for most retailers. Additionally, the month contains two shopping events, Father's Day and Independence Day."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
First week of June

Week ended 6/8 6/15 6/22 6/29 7/6 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department Stores* -0.6 -0.6 -0.9
Discounters 6.6 6.6 5.4
Redbook Average 3.9 3.9 3.0

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