March Chain Store Sales Down 2.1%

U.S. chain store sales for March 2009 were off 2.1 percent on a year-over-year same-store basis according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc.

“The overall tone for March was actually stronger than the reported sales performance,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research. “Sales performance was dampened due to several factors, two of which were calendar related; the first being a calendar-month shift that caused there to be one less Saturday in March compared with last year and the second being that Easter falls three weeks later this year, on April 12, as opposed to March 23 last year. These shifts created an unfavorable month-over-month comparison with March of 2008. If we adjust for the calendar shifts sales for March were stronger than reported, in fact, up about 1 percent.”

For April, 2009 ICSC Research said expects comparable store sales will be flat to up 1 percent year-over-year.

ICSC Chain Store Sales Trends is a monthly report on the U.S. retail industry’s sales performance.