Retail sales gained ground on both a year-on-year and sequential basis last week, but the gains were diminished when adjusted for the earlier timing of Easter.
This story first appeared in the April 8, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Retail Economist-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index concluded the week ended April 4 at 585.6, 1.1 percent above the prior week and 2.5 percent above the comparable seven days in 2014.
In the prior week, the year-on-year growth rate was 2.9 percent and the sequential advance was 3.4 percent.
“The earlier Easter this year — on April 5 versus April 20, 2014 — combined with the third-warmest comparable week in the nation in more than 24 years, according to Weather Trends International, helped to propel sales on an unadjusted basis,” said Michael Niemira, principal and chief economist of The Retail Economist. “Adjusting for the Easter impact — which is the way the TRE-GS weekly [index] is reported, sales showed a moderate gain to finish the fiscal month.”
Niemira told WWD that apparel stores enjoyed a strong performance during the week while “department stores were surprisingly weak, although I’m not sure why.”
Wholesale clubs, office supply stores, electronics stores and non-apparel specialty stores registered “substantial” gains for the week, while more moderate improvement came from drug, discount, dollar and online-only stores.
Weather Trends International noted that, despite the generally warmer weather trends, “the Northeast, as usual, bore the brunt of the worst weather with chilly weather and even some snow.”
Gasoline prices trended down slightly and remained nearly a third — 32.9 percent — below their average year-ago level.
TRE expects March comparable sales among the small sample of public companies that continue to report them to advance about 3 percent, with the timing of Easter benefiting March results at the expense of those in April. L Brand Inc. expects that benefit to translate into between 3 and 4 percent, the company said last month.