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Sunshine spurs same-store sales

With warmer weather settling in across much of the country driving demand for seasonal merchandise, same-store retail sales picked up steam during the third week of July, recovering from some softness during the first two weeks of the month, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Sales improved 3.5 percent over year-ago levels, following gains of 2.8 percent and 2.6 percent the two previous weeks. For the three weeks month-to-date, sales are now running ahead of plan, up 3 percent versus a forecast gain of 2.6 percent.

Measured on a month-over-month basis, sales are down 0.3 percent from June levels, ahead of a targeted decline of 0.7 percent.

"Business appeared to be firmer for the week," said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. "Several retailers are now expecting to end the month ahead of plan. The heat wave as well as precipitation has brought customers into stores and has driven demand for remaining inventory of hot weather items."

Levis said, "Retailers are continuing to focus on clearing summer goods and bringing in back-to-school merchandise. One national retailer adjusted its sales-growth expectations for July downward as its business continued to be depressed by shortages of summer inventory. Seasonal goods shortages do not appear to be a universal problem, however, and most retailers say they are continuing July-clearance programs according to plan and without either merchandise squeezes or excessive discounting."

Boosting the weekly index, the analyst said, business is strong for key companies in the heavily-weighted discount sector, "where strength can lift the entire retail group." In terms of merchandise categories, "Home goods and basic commodities continue to sell strongly and topped the best seller's lists."

Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index
Third week of July

Week ended 7/10 7/17 7/24 7/31 Month Target
Department stores* 2.3 2.3 2.7 2.4 2.2
Discounters 3.0 2.8 4.0 3.3 2.8
Redbook Index 2.8 2.6 3.5 3.0 2.6
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index


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