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December Sales Start Slowly

Waiting for last-minute discounts, consumers held their wallets during the first week of December, putting a chill on early holiday sales, which came in shy of their target, the Johnson Redbook Index reported.

Both discounters and department stores came up short, with same-store sales rising 3.3 percent, missing a targeted gain of 3.8 percent. Sales were substantially off from the 4.4 percent increase recorded the week before during the official launch of the Christmas shopping season.

Discounters continued to outpace their full-price peers with sales advancing 3.9 percent, but missing a target of 4.4 percent. Lagging behind, department stores put up a gain of 2.5 percent, missing a target of 2.9 percent.

“The first week fell short of plan,” said Redbook Analyst Catlin Levis. “Retailers described the week as a slow period which started the weekend following a very busy post-Thanksgiving push. Retailers said average transaction tickets were generally ahead of last year, but customer counts were down. However, some retailers said that the lull was often the case for the first week in December and would likely precede a steady build-up toward Christmas.”

Johnson Redbook Index
First week of December

Week ended 12/3 12/10 12/17 12/24 12/31 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 2.5 2.5 2.9
Discounters 3.9 3.9 4.4
Redbook Average 3.3 3.3 3.8

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