February ends with soft comp gains

Retail Editor 5, March 4, 2014

Redbook March 4

New York - Comps disappointed in the fourth and final week of February, rising a below-plan 2.7% following a 2.9% gain the prior week, according to The Johnson Redbook Retail Sales Index.

The month of February was up 2.9% compared to February of last year, relative to a target of a 3.2% gain. Month-over-month showed a 1.3% drop, relative to a target of a 1.0% drop.

"The softness ensured that there was a lack of momentum to the running month-to-date averages in the closing days for February and the month closed behind its targets," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

Spring apparel saw some early business, she said, mostly in the warmer parts of the country.

"Meanwhile, retailers' earnings reports for the fourth quarter were weak," Levis noted.

Looking forward, March comps are likely to take a hit because of this year's later Easter, which takes place in April. Therefore, March and April should be combined for fair comparisons, she said.

March is a five-week month on the retail calendar ending on April 5. Redbook's preliminary target for its index is 3.3% year-over-year, which could result in a 0.1% gain over February. The target will be updated next week.

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