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Hurricane Ike Slaps September Comps

New York — Hurricane Ike put a hurt on retail in the country's midsection, from Galveston clear up to Grand Rapids, according to analysis of sagging comp-store sales in the third week of September, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Comps gains slowed to a 1.2% rate in the week ended Sept. 20, for a 1.5% uptick month-to-date, now trailing the target of a 1.7% gain — after starting the month ahead of plan.

Discounters have lagged further behind goal since the first week of the five-week retail month. Department stores are approximately at goal — an extremely weak goal, at that: a targeted decrease of 6.0% for the month.

“Sales slipped further with difficult economic conditions, exacerbated by the recent hurricanes,” summed up Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. “Tropical storms and hurricanes received their share of blame from the Gulf coast to Michigan. They kept shoppers away from nonessential venues and forced stores to close. In some cases, stores were damaged in the affected areas. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were without power a week after Ike. Some stores were running out of emergency supplies.”

Levis added, “Sales performance at discounters was sustained largely by food, household supplies, basic apparel and hardware and cleaning supplies.”

Johnson Redbook Index
Third week of September, year-over-year % change

Week Ended 9/6 9/13 9/20 9/27 10/4 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* -5.4 -6.2 -6.1 -5.9 -6.0
Discounters 6.4 6.2 5.8 6.1 6.6
Redbook Index 1.8 1.4 1.2 1.5 1.7


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