WASHINGTON — Retail sales remained flat in April and early May as “unseasonable weather” hampered apparel sales in several districts, the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report revealed Wednesday.

This story first appeared in the June 13, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In the Richmond, Atlanta, St. Louis and Minneapolis districts, overall retail sales were flat on a year-over-year basis, while New York, Chicago and Dallas reported sluggish sales. Retail sales in Boston, Philadelphia, Kansas City and San Francisco, on the other hand, improved.

Retailers in the New York district blamed weak apparel business on “unseasonably cool weather” in May against the year-ago period. The same held true in St. Louis, according to the Fed’s report. In New York, same-store sales changes ranged from a 7 percent decline to a 4 percent increase, the Fed reported.

Retailers also noted they are concerned about the possibility of a West Coast longshoreman’s strike this summer that could have a negative impact on the back-to-school season.

Apparel sales in the Cleveland district were mixed, ranging from “very solid” to year-over-year declines. Meanwhile jewelry, furniture, appliances and electronics posted strong results.

Retail sales in the Minneapolis district were all over the map in April and May. Reports ranged from a major department store posting a 0.4 percent increase in same-store sales in April to a mall posting of a 4 percent decline in the same month. Meanwhile a North Dakota mall reported a 4 percent increase in sales and a mall in Montana showed a 1 percent increase in April compared to a year ago.

The only district to report a bigger sales increase at luxury stores than at discount stores was Kansas City.

“Sales of ready-to-wear apparel were solid,” the Beige Book said.

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