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ICSC Sees Strong Gain in Retail Sales

Increase of 3.9% last week best in nearly a year.

Retail sales last week grew at the fastest pace in nearly a year, according to the chain-store sales index compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.

On a year-over-year basis, sales in the week ended Saturday rose 3.9 percent, their most rapid rise since a 4.3 percent increase registered during the week ended June 1.

On a sequential basis, however, sales last week were 0.1 percent below those of the prior week. That decline followed a more steep descent for the week ended May 3, when sequential sales dipped 2 percent.

 

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“Temperatures turned milder in some parts of the country, which helped drive seasonal demand, especially in the South and ahead of Mother’s Day,” said Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC. “However, weather was not favorable in the West, which held back seasonal spending in that region and contributed to the sequential dip in overall spending.”

 

Comparisons in the country’s midsection were helped by unseasonably cold weather in the year-ago week, ICSC noted, and throughout the country by a slight dip in average gasoline prices. Prices at the pump were down for the second consecutive week after 12 consecutive weekly increases, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The SaleTally-ICSC Promotion Index showed a scaling back of discounting activity at department and specialty stores compared to the prior week as the second quarter of the retail calendar began, but year-on-year comparisons indicated higher levels of promotions.

The Commerce Department Tuesday reported that sales at specialty stores rose a seasonally adjusted 1.2 percent to $21 billion last month as department store sales improved 1.8 percent to $14.2 billion.