Bad weather slows strong sales
By Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 2/2/2004 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
With retailers clearing apparel off their shelves to make way for spring and warm-weather merchandise, same-store retail sales perked up during the third week of January. Sales rose by 3.9 percent over year-ago levels, besting the 3.5 percent gain of the prior week, the Redbook Average reported.
Sales might have climbed even higher had harsh winter weather across the Northeast not kept consumers at home, said Redbook analyst Catlin Levis.
Sales for the three weeks month-to-date approached their monthly goal, rising by 3.7 percent versus a target of 3.9 percent, the Redbook Average reported.
"The week's improvement was mainly due to clearance-driven apparel sales at department stores," said Levis. "Apparel and other seasonal soft-lines ranked high on volume leader lists as retailers mostly sold discounted items."
Results may have been stronger, Levis said, but for bad weather. "Some retailers said they were adversely affected by cold and stormy weather, especially in the Northeast, which kept people at home and thinned out store traffic."
Scoping out the balance of the month, Levis commented, "As retailers enter the final week of the fiscal year, inventories are reported to be clean, easing the transition to spring merchandise. Retailers also expected improved margins, since 2003 was a less promotional year than before."
The closing week's results could also get a hand from tax-free shopping days in New York, the analyst noted.
"In the meantime, New York tax-free shopping week (ran) Monday, Jan. 26, through Sunday, Feb. 1, with no sales tax on apparel and footwear that cost under $110. Retailers are hoping that tax-free offers and additional in-store promotion will drive traffic and boost January sales."
Given a boost by sweeping promotions to move out winter apparel, department stores gained the most during the third week of January, with comps improving by 2.4 percent, a gain over the previous week's 1.8 percent increase. For the three weeks month-to-date, department store sales had gained by 2.2 percent, shy of a target of 2.5 percent.
Redbook Retail Sales Average
Third week of January
|*Including chain stores and traditional department stores.
Source: Redbook Research Inc.
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