Lower gasoline prices failed to ignite spending last week as the year-on-year increase in chain store sales fell to its lowest level in nearly five months.
Apparel specialty stores, however, enjoyed a healthy sales trend.
The International Council of Shopping Center and Goldman Sachs reported that sales for the week ended Saturday rose 2.1 percent over those of the comparable week in 2013, the smallest gain since an identical increase for the week ended May 24.
The sequential trend declined, with sales 0.3 percent below the level of the prior week.
Michael Niemira, research consultant for ICSC, said that business last week was strong at apparel stores, discounters and electronics stores but weak at department stores, non-apparel specialty stores and wholesale clubs, which in recent weeks have enjoyed healthy sales trends.
“Gasoline prices remained low, down a hefty 7.1 percent from the same week of the prior year,” Niemira said. “Continuing to get a break at the pump should bode well for healthy discretionary spending as we inch closer to entering the traditional holiday shopping period.”
The weather didn’t cooperate with retailers’ efforts to sell cold-weather apparel and other autumn season merchandise, with the average temperature for the week 3.9 degrees warmer than during the same period last year and up 3.6 degrees over the long-term trend, according to Weather Trends International.
The unseasonal temperatures appear to have hurt department store apparel sales, but not specialty stores offering apparel, ICSC noted. The decline in the year-on-year sales trend interrupted a string of weeks with increases of at least 3 percent that dated back to mid-July. Sales the week ended July 19 rose 2.8 percent.
ICSC expects same-store sales growth among retailers reporting monthly sales for October to increase between 3.5 and 4.5 percent. Figures are expected to be disclosed on Nov. 6.