Cold temperatures and heavy winter storms throughout the U.S. pared consumer spending opportunities in February and as a result overall U.S. chain store sales increased by 2.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc. The increase was in-line with ICSC’s forecast of 2.5 to 3 percent gain.
Overall, chain store sales rose in most sectors in February. Luxury stores led the way as sales grew by 11.2 percent for the month. Drug stores and wholesale clubs increased by 6.6 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively. The other sectors that posted increases were department chain stores (2.1%) and discount stores (1.5%). As a result of the colder and stormy weather, apparel chain store sales decreased by 0.8 percent for the month.
“Typically, February has the second lowest monthly sales volume of the year (followed behind January) and often can be affected by adverse weather conditions, which was the case this year,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “For March, we expect same-store sales will increase by about 4 percent, as the Easter calendar shift will drive consumer demand for spring apparel and seasonal merchandise,” Niemira added.
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 February. 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. 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.