Same-store sales continue Dec. drop
By Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, 12/24/2001 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
With consumers waiting for holiday sales, and the mood made even more uncertain by a steady stream of layoffs, retail same-store sales fell off by 1.2 percent during the second week of December, weakening even further after a 0.9 percent decline the prior week, according to the widely watched bellwether, the Redbook Retail Sales Average.
Hardest hit, and dragging down the overall numbers, was the consistently weak department store sector, where sales fell by 5.5 percent, compounding the 5.0 percent drop during the first week of the month.
Even discounters were starting to feel a modest squeeze, with their month-to-date sales coming in modestly beneath plan: an increase of 2.6 percent, compared with a forecast gain of 2.8 percent.
But on a modestly hopeful note, Redbook analyst Catlin Levis said business should pick up during the back half of the month. "Sales growth is expected to be the strongest in the next two weeks as consumers continue to delay purchases to close to Christmas. The two biggest weeks in December are the ones immediately before Christmas beginning on the preceding Saturday and the one immediately following it beginning with the succeeding Saturday. These weeks could determine the entire month's performance, which makes current readings somewhat provisional," she said.
During the second shopping week of December, said Levis, "most of the action was on holiday seasonal goods, although certain apparel categories sold reasonably well after cold weather in selected regions. Elsewhere, sales of electronics, DVD players, PlayStation, Xbox, videos and toys did well."
But even despite deep discounting, consumers remain wary, Levis noted, casting a pall over retailers' profit outlooks. "Retailers are slashing their prices further and extending their store hours to try to win shoppers this season as consumers search for bargains. Despite heavy promotions, consumers are still reluctant to splurge in this very promotional retail environment," she said.
Redbook Retail Sales Average
Second week of December
|*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Retail Sales Average, a unit of Instinet, a Reuters company.
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