Mixed Results for November Sales at Chain Stores

The 2006 holiday shopping season got underway in November with some mixed results as chain store sales rose by 2.1 percent for the month, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc.

Overall chain store sales rose in most sectors in November. Leading all sectors were luxury chain stores sales which saw a positive increase, as sales rose 5.1 percent for the month, according to ICSC. Department chain stores continued to post healthy results as sales rose 4.6 percent in November. Other sectors that posted an increase were wholesale clubs (3.5%), discount stores (1%), and apparel chain stores (0.2%). 

“November results were mixed by retailer, by segment and at the beginning of the month,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “Retailers cited three reasons for the results—tough comparison with hurricane-induced replacement demand in the South, pockets of mild weather that curbed seasonal apparel demand and lower gasoline prices (relative to last year) that cut into wholesale clubs which report gasoline sales. Though the ‘traditional’ kick-off to the holiday shopping season got underway over Thanksgiving weekend and provided some encouragement throughout the industry, November’s softness must now be made up over the next month.”

For December, ICSC expects same-store sales to increase by 2.5 to 3 percent, on a year-over-year basis. As for the 2006 holiday season, ICSC has pared down its forecast as it expect overall same-store sales will increase by 2.5 to 3 percent for November and December combined, “due to the possibility of some lingering softness in demand in some sectors,” 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 54 chain stores during the month of November.