Lower prices at the pump contributed to a 4.2 percent gain in chain store sales last week, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.
The pickup in sales for the week ended Saturday was accompanied by a 0.6 percent gain on sales in comparison to the prior week, just the second time in four weeks that both metrics had risen. In the week ended Aug. 2, year-over-year sales rose 4.5 percent while sequential sales increased 0.2 percent. That matched the sequential increase of the prior week, when year-on-year sales were up 4.6 percent.
Michael Niemira, research consultant for ICSC, said that sales were strong “across the board, especially for wholesale clubs, apparel stores, discounters, dollars stores and furniture stores” during a period dominated by back-to-school shopping.
“I expect sales for August to show a healthy gain of 4 to 5 percent, a notable improvement over the 3.6 percent gain in August 2013,” he added.
The stronger results came despite inclement weather in the Southwest and overall precipitation across the U.S. that was 62 percent greater than in the comparable week of 2013.
However, citing figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, ICSC said consumer spending power was lifted by a drop in gasoline prices, 2.8 percent lower than in the comparable week of last year.
Over the last eight weeks, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has fallen 25 cents.