March Chain Store Sales Down 0.5%

March chain store sales fell by 0.5 percent year-over-year on a comparable store basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc.

“Due to the Easter shift (Easter fell out on March 23, compared to April 8, 2007) and weak economic conditions, the retail industry faced a difficult sales environment in March,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “Weakness was evident in the apparel, department store, and luxury sectors ? but, on a positive note we did see some strength in the grocery store, drug store and wholesale club sectors.”

He added, “Looking forward to April, record high gasoline prices and consumers’ worry about the economy will continue to curb discretionary spending power.”

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 37 chain stores during the month of March. 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.