BROAD-LINES COMP SALES UP IN WEEK
NEW YORK — Same-store sales among broad-lines retailers — department stores, discounters and mass chains — rose an average 4.5 percent in the first week of December and retained much of the momentum of the post-Thanksgiving weekend rush, according to the LJR Redbook research firm.
Although apparel has been sluggish at many major retailers, Redbook said Tuesday that sales overall were on plan this month, with colder weather starting to drive the seasonal apparel business. Redbook also said there were no clear signs the retail business had become more promotional.
“Despite some analysts’ reports to the contrary, retailers generally deny they are being more promotional than is normal at this time of year,” Redbook added.
“Some have indicated that inventory levels are higher than they should be, but these appear for now to be isolated cases rather than an industry theme.
“It is too early in the season to expect widespread discounting, although some retailers have disclosed they are using it selectively to clear problem areas,” Redbook noted.
Salomon Smith Barney also said broad-lines sales were in line with forecasts during week one. “Apparel sales appeared to have picked up [last week], particularly seasonal and high-end apparel, possibly due to cooler weather as well as an increase in this category in advertisements,” the investment firm said.
Smith Barney noted the first week represented around 15 percent of the month’s sales.
It expects its broad-lines same-store index to increase 4.8 percent, discounters to be up 6.1 percent, on average, and department stores, 2.1 percent.