The post-Thanksgiving lull descended on retailers last week, knocking their sales down 1.5 percent from the prior seven days despite strength at department and apparel stores.
The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs noted that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, sales for the week through Nov. 6 rose 2.9 percent, the largest increase among the chain stores participating since a 3.8 percent spurt during the second week of October. The deceleration in sales trends from the prior week was consistent with the 1.8 percent sequential decline registered during the week of Nov. 29.
The ICSC described business as “extremely robust” for wholesale clubs, electronics stores and drug stores and “very strong” at department, apparel and furniture stores. Costco Wholesale Corp. was among the standout performers when retailers reported same-store sales last week, reporting a 9 percent increase in U.S. stores when the deflationary influence of lower gas prices was excluded.
ICSC also suggested that there is plenty of holiday shopping ahead, as the “completion percentage” among consumers last week rose to 45.7 percent from 32.3 percent in the prior week, but remained below the 46.7 percent completion rate for the same week in 2013 and well below the 51 percent mark registered at the same point in 2012.
While weather tends to be less of a factor during the holiday season than at other times of the year, provided it doesn’t keep consumers off the roads, out of the stores and even offline, the typical U.S. shopper faced temperatures that were 4.3 degrees warmer than last year during the week and 3.4 degrees above the longer-term average.
Prices at the pump continued to cooperate with shoppers feeling the holiday spirit, with the average price of a gallon of gas at its lowest point since February 2010, translating into annualized savings of about $90 billion, according to The Retail Economist LLC.