March Same-Store Sales Sag

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March Same-Store Sales Sag


Retail same-store sales sagged to a 2.5 percent gain in March as sales were affected by this year’s late Easter holiday and higher fuel prices.

That’s according to a report by Kantar Retail, which noted the sales-weighted composite for the 28 retailers reporting – most of them apparel retailers – was down from the same-store sales gain of 4.4 percent last month and 9.2 percent in March 2010. This year’s result for March was just less than half of last year’s combined 5.7 percent gain for March and April last year.

“What’s encouraging is that the Easter-related letup in sales wasn’t as severe as expected by a number of retailers, especially in light of the additional drag of higher fuel prices,” said Frank Badillo, Kantar senior economist. “Sustained growth in jobs and income may be helping to alleviate some of the pain.”

Easter falls on April 24 this year, compared with April 4 last year.

The results were led by stronger-than-average results at food, drug and mass retailers, where fuel and food price inflation is focused. Lagging were department stores, followed by apparel and accessory stores. The calculations no longer include Walmart, which stopped reporting monthly results in April 2009.

While March’s sharp rise in fuel prices boosted results at warehouse clubs that sell gasoline, other retailers may have been hurt to some extent as fuel prices appeared to take a toll on shoppers’ spending intentions in March, as reported in Kantar’s latest ShopperScape.

The percentage of shoppers planning to spend less in the coming month compared with the same period a year ago increased by about 1 percentage point to 34 percent (in terms of a three-month moving average). The percentage of shoppers planning to spend about the same fell by nearly 1 percentage point to 55 percent. The percentage of shoppers planning to spend more than last year held nearly steady.

Same-store sales received little support from shoppers’ perceptions of their financial health, which deteriorated more than they improved among six measures, especially compared with the prior month. Compared with the prior month, most of the measures – job security and worth of investments in particular – showed deterioration. Slightly more shoppers felt better off with regard to credit card levels compared with the prior month.

Despite the month-to-month deterioration, households continue to feel as good or better off compared with a year ago, especially with regard to income levels and value of investments.

Click here for a list of the retailers reporting and their results.

Kantar Retail is a global retail insights and consulting business that works with leading retailers and branded manufacturers to transform the purchase behavior of consumers, shoppers and retailers. The ShopperScape survey is conducted each month with a sample of 4,000 U.S. primary household shoppers.