Strength in most retail channels — impeded only by a snowstorm that affected the Northeast — helped retailers end their fiscal years on a positive note.
The Retail Economist LLC and Goldman Sachs, in their weekly chain-store sales index, pinned the year-over-year increase for the week ended Jan. 31 at 3.7 percent, the best gain since the 3.9 percent jump in the week ended Jan. 3.
The sequential gain was 1.4 percent over the prior week, ended Jan. 24. The increase over the earlier week, however, was the strongest since a 3.4 percent pick-up during the week that ended on Super Saturday, Dec. 20.
“Adverse weather battered sales in the Northeast during the early part of the week but triggered some stocking up ahead of the storm,” said Michael Niemira, chief economist and principal of The Retail Economist. “The latest week’s sales performance ended the retail fiscal year on a strong note sequentially and on a year-over-year basis.”
He noted that the year-on-year gain came against a “very weak performance” during the 2014 period.
With temperatures running above average for the week despite the arrival of winter storm Juno, the sales improvement was widespread, including department, apparel and discount stores as well as wholesale clubs and electronics, office supply, department store, furniture and drug stores.
The steady decline in gasoline prices was interrupted last week as the average cost of a gallon of unleaded regular rose for the first time in 18 weeks, ticking up 2.4 cents to $2.068, but remained 37.2 percent below the comparable week of 2014.