Clearance of winter inventories keeps comps up at end of January

Retail Editor 4, February 4, 2014

RedbookNew York - As clearance winter goods moved out to make way for new seasonal merchandise, comps rose 2.7% in the fourth and final week of January following a 3.2% gain the prior week, according to the Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.

Month-to-date, January was up 3.0% compared to January of last year, relative to a target of a 3.4% gain. Month-over-month showed a 0.2% drop, relative to a target of a 0.2% gain.

Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said clearance should continue to dominate sales activity for several more weeks as old inventories are moved out and fresh early spring goods arrive.

"Discount stores, which are less dependent on markdown cycles than department stores, have shown steadier results over the course of the week," she noted. "Meanwhile, food sales got a lift from Super Bowl Sunday."

Looking ahead, February is a four-week month on the retail calendar, ending on March 1st and is the start of the fiscal year for most retailers. The month contains two major events: Valentines' Day and President's Day.

"Our preliminary target is for 3.0% same-store sales growth in February," Levis added. "This generates a month-over-month change versus January of a 1.3% drop."

This target may be revised in next week's report, she summed.

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