Slow Start for April Comp Sales

Both major channels — the discounters and the department stores — were below plan in comparable-store sales as April got underway with cold, damp weather holding down spring purchases by consumers, the Johnson Redbook reported.

April is a four-week month on the retail calendar; it started April 8 and will end on May 5. Month-to-date, April was up 0.2% compared to April of last year, shy of a targeted 0.5% gain. Month-over-month volume was 4.0% below March, a low-achievement mark compared to the targeted 3.7% drop.

To date, department stores are tracking at a 2.4% comp gain, well below the 3.0% target for the month. Discounters, showing a 1.2% comp drop, are actually closer to plan, as the channel is forecast to be down 1.1% for the month.

"Most companies ended the period below plan," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"The cool and wet weather across most parts of the country took the edge off apparel sales reducing store traffic and putting the brakes on seasonal business," she noted.

Looking at April as a whole, Levis observed, "The sharp drop in our model's year-over-year growth rate reflected the transition from the positive to the negative side of the Easter shift. Some retailers are concerned about rising gasoline prices which could become a burden going forward especially for lower income consumers."

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of April, year-over-year % change

Week ended 4/14 4/21 4/28 5/5 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.4 2.4 3.0
Discounters -1.2 -1.2 -1.1
Redbook Average 0.2 0.2 0.5


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