Chain-store Sales Rebound in May

Following April’s retail sales drop, comparable-store sales recovered in May as sales increased 2.5 percent, on a year-over-year basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc.

While the sales increase was welcomed news to the nation’s retailers, sales performance was uneven by retail type. Wholesale clubs were the leading performers in May as sales increased 6.5 percent followed by a 5.3 percent sales increase at drug stores, a 2.2 percent increase at department stores and a 1.7 percent gain for discounters. On the negative side, apparel chain store sales fell by 0.6 percent.

“While it was a mixed story for the nation’s retailers May’s sales rebound confirmed that the April sales tumble was largely an anomaly and not a sign of a more severe pullback in consumer spending,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “Between February and May 2007, the average industry run rate for sales was 2.2 percent compared with its 2006 average for that same period of 4.1 percent. The demand softness that is present this year versus last is largely a direct or indirect consequence of the residential housing market weakness.”

Looking forward to June’s retail sales, Niemira said he expects industry same-store sales will increase by 2 to 2.5 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 53 chain stores during the month of April. Industry sales aggregates are compiled for “same-store” sales and for total store sales. Same-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.