ICSC: March Same-Store Sales Fall 2.1%

ICSC's survey of chain store sales trends has been released. The survey of 33 retailers shows a decline in same-store sales of 2.1 percent. However, many retailers seemed satisfied with the results. According to the report (membership required):

Despite the outwardly weak performance on a reported basis, many retailer comments reflected a better tone to the sales performance in March. The better tone was due to

several factors--two of which were calendar related. Calendar-month reporting firms (such as destination Maternity) noted that there was more Tuesday and one less Saturday this March

compared with March 2008.

Retail Forward's numbers are a bit stronger. The retail consultant has numbers from 40 retailers and its research indicates same-store sales fell 0.8 percent.

The New York Times has more.

The good news for March, retail analysts said, is that not every retailer was in free fall — which is what appeared to be the case during the holiday shopping season. Still, the word of the day is “caution.”

The prospect of a recovery, analysts at Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said, is being hindered by the rise in the average duration of unemployment and in the number of people working part time for economic reasons.

“I think we're six-plus months away from settling into recovery,” said Matthew F. Katz, a managing director in the retailing practice of AlixPartners, a reorganization firm. “We still have to flush out everything that happened to us, and we're just not there yet.”

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