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Retailers see sales weaken in December

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Although overall holiday sales were encouraging, mass retailers saw their same-store sales growth slow in December.

Kantar Retail's sales-weighted composite for 31 retailers (most of them apparel chains) indicated a 3.2% same-store sales increase for December. That is a better performance than the retail industry turned in last December, but it is down from the 5.6% same-store sales growth retailers posted in November of 2010.

 

NEW YORK — Shoppers grew cautious in December, and their mood translated into softer same-store sales growth for retailers.

Shoppers grew cautious in December, and their mood translated into softer same-store sales growth for retailers.

Retailers posted same-store sales growth of 3.2% in December, according to Kantar Retail. Although stronger than the 3.0% gain posted last December, it is a decline from November’s 5.6% increase.

"It’s clear that November’s great in-store deals robbed spending from December," said Kantar senior economist Frank Badillo. "And in December shoppers were partial to spending online, perhaps encouraged even more by bad weather late in the month. One key exception was upscale department stores, which saw sales growth hold steady or improve in December."
Despite its reputation as an upscale discounter, Target Corp. did not share that kind of sales growth. The retailer reported a 1.4% increase in total sales, to about $9.9 billion, for the five week period ended January 1. Same-store sales were up 0.9%.

"December sales were below expectations, as strength in grocery and apparel was offset by softness in electronics, toys and some home categories," said Target chairman, president and chief executive officer Gregg Steinhafel.

Costco Wholesale Corp. reported net sales of about $9.2 billion for the five weeks ended January 2, up 11% versus the prior year period. Comparable club sales for the company as a whole rose 6%, helped by inflation in gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies. Excluding those effects, comparable club sales advanced 3% in the United States and 4% for the company as a whole.

Fred’s Inc. reported a 1% increase, to $210.6 million, for the five-week period. Comparable-store sales at the 675-unit discount chain rose 0.2%.


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