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ICSC Sees Apparel Business Pick Up

Overall sales trends soften in week.

Apparel business showed signs of life at retail last week even as overall sales trends weakened.

The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs reported a 1.3 percent decline in sales for the week ended Saturday in comparison to the prior week. Measured against the comparable week in 2013, sales were up 2.4 percent, which represented a contraction from the 3.9 percent year-on-year gain registered in the prior week ended May 10.

While business declined at grocery, book, jewelry and office products stores, the survey picked up on “considerable strength at wholesale clubs and dollar stores, strong apparel business and moderate gains at department stores, furniture stores and discounters,” ICSC said.

Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist at ICSC, noted that weather again played a role in retailers’ results, with last week ranking as “the coldest second week of a retail May in four years and the wettest in more than 23 years,” according to Weather Trends International.

“But despite the weather, business at more retail segments was positive than negative relative to the same week in the prior year, which is an encouraging sign,” Niemira said.

ICSC expects comparable-store sales to increase between 3 and 3.5 percent during May. The month-to-date comparison is an increase of 3 percent.