Retailers continued their wait for an upturn in consumer buying last week as the year-on-year sales increase fell to its lowest level in nearly six months.
The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs reported that their chain store sales index for the week ended Nov. 1 rose just 1.8 percent from the comparable 2013 period, the weakest advance since a 1.5 percent gain during the week ended April 5. Based on an index level of 547.8, the comparison to the prior week amounted to a 1.6 percent decline, the worst showing since a 2.6 percent decrease during the week ended Sept. 13.
While electronics stores registered “very strong” results, apparel, discount and dollar stores and wholesale clubs generated only modest gains and the increase among department stores was described as “tiny.”
Furniture stores saw a “big falloff” while declines were described as moderate at office and grocery stores.
While weather played a role in the soft results, with record highs and record lows, including some snowfall, in different parts of the country, the average temperature was about 1 degree warmer than last year and 1.8 degrees warmer than the long-term average, according to Weather Trends International.
“Weather seemingly curbed consumer demand in seasonal categories this week,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC research consultant and principal of The Retail Economist LLC. “However, as the weather gets cooler, and with the traditional start to the holiday shopping season starting in earnest during the [current] week, we should see an uptick in sales.”
Gasoline prices continued to work in favor of discretionary purchasing power, with the average price of a gallon of unleaded gasoline 8.3 percent lower than a year ago.
ICSC expects same-store sales results for October among the small sample of retailers who continue to report them to rise between 3 and 3.5 percent versus growth of 4.1 percent during October 2013.