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Comps aided by post-Christmas promos in December's final week

RedbookNew York - Driven by clearance and promotional activity, comps rose 4.1% in the fifth and final week of December following a 4.5% gain the prior week, according to the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.
Month-to-date, December was up 3.6% compared to December of the prior year, relative to a target of a 3.8% gain. Month-over-month showed a 0.6% drop, relative to a target of a 0.4% drop.
Catlin Levis, Redbook analyst, said seasonal inventory clearance "was certainly a factor in post-Christmas buying."
She cited reports of "significant upside surprises at some department stores, which tend to be more promotional than discount stores this time of year. Retailers said the week, like the month, was more promotional than planned, suggesting continuing margin pressure in an already challenging fourth quarter."
Looking forward, January is not a big month for revenue and is typically a transitional period as stores concentrate on clearing winter inventories to make way for spring restocking in February, Levis continued.
January is a four-week month on the retail calendar, closing the fiscal year for most retailers.
Redbook's preliminary target for the Johnson Redbook Index in January is 3.4% year-over-year, which would result in month-over-month growth of 0.2% against December. This target may be revised in next week's report.

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