Retail sales up 5.6% despite blackouts

After losing more than $30 million in potential sales across the Northeast on Thursday and Friday, U.S. retail recovered nicely to post its 16th consecutive week of year-over-year sales growth for week ending August 16th.

ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate (NRSE) reported that U.S. retail sales for the week ending August 16 grew by 5.6% compared to the same week in 2002, despite the blackouts that crippled many retailers in the Northeast Thursday and Friday. Sales for the month of August are currently on pace to gain 5% over 2002.

After day-over-day sales in the Northeast fell by $30 million on Thursday and Friday due to widespread blackouts, retailers were able to recover a significant portion of their loss on Saturday. Additionally, ShopperTrak’s reports of only a slight 1.5% week-over-week decline nationally, indicated that while the blackouts did impact retail sales, the localized nature and short duration of the outages helped the industry avoid major damage.

“Retail sales fell in the Northeast by about $30 million (at a daily rate) on Thursday (August 14) due to the blackout, from Wednesday’s sales level,” said Michael Niemira, lead consultant for ShopperTrak’s NRSE. “However, for the region, it appeared that retailers were able to recover about two-thirds of that loss by Saturday. It also appears that improving economic fundamentals, including tax rebate checks and lower tax rates, helped the retail sector overcome the effect of the blackouts.”

Developed by ShopperTrak, the NRSE provides a nationwide benchmark of retail sales. It is derived from the U.S. Commerce Department’s GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales) statistic, as well as ShopperTrak’s proprietary industry intelligence on shopper movement and sales statistics.