Luxury chain stores post softest gain since 2005

February provided mixed results for retailers as swaying weather patterns and continued concerns over higher energy costs and rising interest rates caused consumers to slow some of their spending. On a year-over-year basis, chain store sales rose by 3.2 percent in February, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc.

ICSC said it was a bit higher than expected, but the softest performance since July 2005 when chain store sales rose by 3.6 percent. ICSC added that February is one of the least important months for chain store sales.

In February, luxury chain store sales which rose by 2 percent, their softest increase since November 2005, according to the monthly survey.

Wholesale clubs and drug chain stores led the way and posted increases of 6.2 and 5.8 percent, respectively. Discount chain stores continued to see gains as sales rose by 2.9 percent. Rounding out the month was: Department stores also saw sales increase by 1.0 percent. On a negative note, apparel chain stores saw sales decline by 1.0 percent.

“February sales were largely in line with our expectations, but clearly depressed by adverse weather,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “Results varied vastly but continued to spotlight how robust consumer spending is. For March, ICSC expects same-store sales to increase by 3 percent on a year-over-year basis, as Easter-related sales shift from March to April.”

ICSC Chain Store Sales Trends is a monthly report on the U.S. retail industry’s sales performance based on an ICSC preliminary compilation of publicly-available sales for 59 chain stores during the month of February.