By  on August 12, 2014

U.S. chain store sales continued their run of year-over-year increases last week while the weekly trend tracked downward for the first time in four weeks.

The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs index of chain store sales was up 3.2 percent for the week ended Saturday, below the 4.5 and 4.6 percent increases registered during the prior two weeks.

Sequential sales were down 1.4 percent, their steepest decline since the first week of June and only the second drop in the past five weeks. Week-over-week sales pulled back 0.4 percent during the week ended July 19.

“Business was a bit more mixed this past week, with electronic stores leading the way from a performance standpoint,” said Michael Niemira, research consultant for ICSC. “The good news is that consumers are continuing to get a break at the pump, which will free up their ability to spend on back-to-school purchases.”

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The pick-up at electronics stores tied into spending for the upcoming school year but didn’t extend to specialty stores, which registered as the weakest segment among those covered by the ICSC survey.

Niemira expects August sales to improve between 4 and 5 percent, compared to a 3.6 percent gain last August.

The price of a gallon of regular-grade unleaded gas fell 1 cent in the week ended Aug. 11 and was 1.6 percent lower than in the same week last year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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