Chain Store Sales Down 1.6%

U.S. chain store sales for January 2009 fell by 1.6 percent on a year-over-year same-store basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc.

“January sales were slightly better than anticipated, but still continued to be weak overall, marking the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year declines for retail sales,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research. “Wholesale clubs, excluding gasoline sales, posted the strongest segment gain (3.7 percent) which was also the category’s strongest showing since September. Sales at discounters improved on a year-over-year basis, posting (1.1 percent) their best increase since August 2008. This ends a very tough fourth quarter (Nov-Jan) and fiscal year. The lingering recession will continue to be a drag on spending in the months ahead.

ICSC anticipates that 2009 will be a transition year for retailers, predicting that sales will remain down for the first half of the year and positively improve toward the end of 2009. The February outlook for retail sales will be down 1 to 2 percent.

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 36 chain stores during the month of January. Industry sales aggregates are compiled for same-store sales and for total store sales. Those data are presented as an index with a 1977=100 base.