Discounters Drive Comp Gains

Discount chains continue to drive industry-wide comparable store sales gains, keeping the overall mark just even with the February goal after the first two weeks, the Johnson Redbook reported.

Both the department store and discount store channels faced a year-ago comparison of a 2.8% gain in February comps. Halfway through the month, discounters are 1.1% above last year's mark — but department stores are faltering, with comps up just 0.2%, trailing their 0.6% full-month goal.

Department stores did pick up the pace somewhat in the second week, with comps up 0.3%, following the 0.1% uptick in the first week.

"Valentine's Day was a major draw for some department stores, and some stores noted that shoppers are being more conservative about their spending on Valentine-related merchandise," said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.

"Discounters reported brisk sales in traditional Valentine's Day items such as flowers, cards and candy, resulting in increases in customer traffic in categories not directly related to the event," she said. "These categories included food and household goods."

"Retailers whose exposure is predominantly in the North have yet to see significant activity in spring categories. Elsewhere, seasonal inventory clearances continued," Levis concluded.

Johnson Redbook Index
Second week of February, year-over-year % change

Week ended 2/9 2/16 2/23 3/1 Month Target
*Including chain stores and traditional department stores
Source: Johnson Redbook Index
Department stores* 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.6
Discounters 0.9 1.2 1.1 0.8
Redbook Average 0.6 0.8 0.7 0.7

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