November Same-store Sales Surge

Retail same-store sales got a big lift to 6 percent growth in November from a strong promotional environment, an easy year-ago comparison period and shifting shopper spending intentions, according to Kantar Retail.

The sales-weighted composite for the 30 retailers reporting—most of them apparel retailers—was better than the 1.7 percent same-store sales gain last month and the 0.9 percent gain in November 2009 for the same measure. Note that the calculations no longer include Walmart, which stopped reporting monthly results in April 2009.

“Shoppers have been shaking off their recent cautiousness about spending and any last doubts may have been removed by all the great deals that came early and often in November,” said Frank Badillo, Kantar senior economist. “The rest of the holiday looks positive given shoppers’ spending plans, but they will no doubt be looking for more big promotions to sustain this kind of spending pace.”

Department stores led the results, although the gains were spread across channels with food, drug and mass retailers, and apparel and accessory stores following closely behind. For a list of the retailers reporting and their results, click here.

The same-store sales results may be getting support from shopper spending intentions that continue to show signs of breaking with a period of deterioration from June to September, according to Kantar Retail’s ShopperScape survey.

In November, the percentage of shoppers planning to spend less in the coming month compared with the same period a year ago edged lower for the second month in a row (in terms of a three-month moving average). Slightly more shoppers are planning to spend more in the coming month. The percentage of shoppers planning to spend about the same as last year held steady.

Spending plans also may be benefiting from shoppers’ improving perceptions of their financial health, particularly in terms of job security and income levels. The measures of household financial health improved from last month as well as from a year ago in terms of job security, household income level, and worth of household investments.

The deterioration in perception of financial health is focused in credit card debt and home values. Slightly fewer households felt better off in terms of credit card debt compared with the prior month. And slightly fewer households felt better off about the value of their home compared with the prior year.

Spending plans for the rest of the holiday shopping season continue to suggest that it will be a better holiday than last year. In November, nearly half (49 percent) of shoppers planned to spend about the same on holiday gifts as last year. That’s 7 percentage points higher than the same time last year.

The percentage of shoppers planning to spend less on holiday gifts slipped to 36 percent. That’s 7 percentage points lower than the same time last year. The percentage of shoppers planning to spend more held steady at 9 percent.

 A broad array of online retailers appears to be among the major beneficiaries of shoppers’ spending plans for the holiday. The biggest beneficiaries are pure-play or “online-only” retailers. More than half (54 percent) of shoppers plan to shop online. That’s 10 percentage points more than last year.

Among the other retailers seeing growing shopper interest in their online offer are traditional department stores, value department stores and warehouse clubs.

London-based 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 online each month with a sample of 4,000 U.S. primary household shoppers.

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