Same-stores still soft in 2nd week

Same-store retail sales remained soft and spongy during the second week of May, thinning out slightly further from an already emaciated performance during the prior week, the Redbook Retail Sales Average reported.

Same-store sales inched up by just 0.3 percent, weakening from the modestly stronger prior-week performance of a 0.7 percent gain.

Sales at the nation's big mass merchants held steady, ticking up by 1.3 percent, the same increase recorded the week preceding. But sales in department stores worsened, falling by 1.3 percent, sliding down from the previous week's 0.4 percent dip.

For the two weeks month-to-date, combined sales of department sales and discounters have missed their target, registering a 0.5 increase, compared with a target of 0.8 percent.

And there seemed to be no easily identifiable culprit for the subdued sales picture, said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis. "The softer week appeared to be due more to individual store's promotional and comparative calendars than to any change in underlying conditions."

Levis noted, "Some retailers said the pace of sales was uneven, slowing down in the middle of the week but picking up and finishing up more firmly into the weekend, partially due to an increase in demand after May 15, when consumers received their mid-month paychecks."

Breaking out sales by merchandise category, Levis said "children's wear, women's wear and outdoor merchandise were the focus of business, helped by clearance sales. Discount stores continue to do best in food and household goods."

Regional sales patterns varied from store to store, said Levis. "The Northeast and Midwest on balance were the top-performing regions."

Redbook Retail Sales Average
Second week of May

Week ended 4/12 4/19 4/26 5/3 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
Department stores* -0.4 -1.3 -0.8 -0.7
Discounters 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.8
Redbook Average 0.7 0.3 0.5 0.8

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