By  on April 22, 2014

The shift in Easter — and even a hint of moderation in temperatures — helped U.S. retailers increase their sales on both a weekly and year-over-year basis.

In their chain-store sales index, the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs calculated that sales for the week ended Saturday rose 1.9 percent over those of the comparable 2013 week and 0.4 percent over those for the week ended April 12.

In the prior week, sales rose 2.3 percent versus those for the prior-year week but fell 0.3 percent from the preceding week. The 2.3 percent uptick had been the strongest performance by the index in two months.

Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC, noted that the long wait for spring weather hurt results. “Sales during the pre-Easter week posted a moderate gain, with retailers stepping up their promotions, but Mother Nature refused to cooperate as another bout of unseasonably cool weather hit much of the country,” he said. “Even so, the gain marks the second straight solid performance from a yearly standpoint, good news for when the weather finally turns.”

Easter Sunday was April 20 this year, 20 days later than in 2013, pushing sales into the current month but, along with wintry weather, limiting sales gains in March. ICSC forecasts a 3.5 to 4 percent increase in same-store sales for the current month. Its tracking estimates for the month include a 4 percent increase in comparable sales for Gap Inc. and a 3 percent boost at L Brands. In March, Gap’s comp sales declined 6 percent while comp-store sales for Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands were off 1 percent. Gap’s figures include e-commerce revenues while L Brands’ do not.

The SaleTally-ICSC Promotion Index indicated heightened promotional activity at department and specialty stores in the run-up to Easter. Consumer spending continued to be constrained by higher gas prices, ICSC noted.

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