ICSC: Sales Slump for Fourth Straight Week

Year-on-year trend is up 2.1 percent while weekly trend remains soft.

Heavy travel over the Memorial Day weekend didn’t benefit U.S. retailers.

The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs reported a 1.2 percent dip in retail sales during the week ended Saturday in comparison with the prior week, marking the fourth consecutive week of sequential declines.

As has been the case since the week ended April 5, the year-over-year comparison was better, with sales up 2.1 percent from the comparable seven-day period in 2013. In the first week of April, both sequential and year-on-year sales comparisons rose 1.5 percent.

The sequential declines in the weeks ended May 17, May 10 and May 3 were 1.3, 0.1 and 2 percent, respectively. The corresponding gains in year-on-year sales for those same weeks were 2.4, 3.9 and 2 percent.

ICSC cited data from the American Automobile Association estimating that 36.1 million travelers would venture more than 50 miles from home during the Memorial Day weekend spanning Thursday to Monday. That represented a postrecession high and the second-highest figure since 2000, noted Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist at ICSC, but it didn’t help retail sales.

“In addition, adverse weather in some heavily populated areas gave consumers another reason not to shop,” he added of storms that hit the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic corridor.

Business was strongest at warehouse clubs and moderately better at drug and dollar stores, with other segments, including department and apparel stores, down.

ICSC expects May same-store sales to increase between 3 and 3.5 percent when stores report their monthly results on June 5. The aggregate figure of reporting stores tends to run about 2 points higher than data for the industry as a whole.