Weather has taken much of the blame for soft retail sales in recent months and it received much of the credit for a strong pick-up in business that lifted apparel purchasing last week.

The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs reported that sales for the week ended Saturday rose 3.1 percent on a year-on-year basis and 2.9 percent from prior-week levels.

The 3.1 percent jump from the 2013 period was the second-strongest increase of the last 12 months, behind only the 3.9 percent advance during the week ended May 10. The largest boost prior to that was a 4.3 percent increase during the week ended June 1, 2013.

The ICSC-Goldman Sachs index hadn’t produced year-on-year and sequential increases at the same time since the week ended April 26, when the gains were 3.1 and 1.6 percent, respectively. Even as the index rose 3.9 percent on a year-on-year basis for the week ended May 10, the sequential change was a 0.1 percent decline.


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“Sales soared over the past week, which included the Memorial Day holiday, after consumers seemingly deferred spending in the prior week, and a bout of hot weather helped drive demand for seasonal goods,” said Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist at ICSC.

The weekly sales update indicated that business was “very strong” at apparel stores and wholesale clubs and “strong” at department stores, as well as at electronics and furniture stores.

Grocery stores, discounters, dollar stores and non-apparel specialty stores turned in weaker performances.
ICSC cited Weather Trends International data showing that temperatures were, on average, 1.5 degrees warmer last week than during the comparable week of 2013 and 3.6 degrees warmer than average for the week ending on Saturday.

The retail trade group continues to expect a pick-up of between 3 and 3.5 percent in May sales when participating retailers report comparable monthly results this Thursday.

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