2003 holiday season best since 1999

The 2003 holiday season will be remembered as the strongest season since 1999 as November-December combined sales grew by 4%, in a year-over-year comparison, according to the ICSC Chain Store Sales Index.

“Despite the weather-related delays and consumer procrastination, the last minute surge in spending gave retailers their strongest holiday season since 1999,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “Though the results were mixed by category, the overall outcome to the season was consistent with our expectations.”

Wholesales clubs outperformed all other store types and achieved a 9.2% sales increase for November and December combined. Drug stores also performed well, achieving a 7.1% increase followed by discount stores (4.1%); apparel stores (2.3%) and department stores (.1%). The only two categories that saw sales drop were footwear stores (-2.2%) and furniture stores (-1.1%).

ICSC Chain Store Sales Index is a monthly report on the U.S. retail industry’s sales performance based on an ICSC compilation of publicly-available sales for about 80 retail chain stores. Industry sales aggregates are compiled for “comparable-store” or “same-store” sales and for total store sales. Those data are presented as an index with a 1977=100 base. Comparable-store sales are also compiled for specialized-industry groupings, which include aggregates for apparel chain stores, department stores, discount stores, drug stores, footwear stores, furniture chain stores, and wholesale clubs.