Same-Store Sales Soar in February

After a home run in December and a strong January, retailers continued their hot streak with same-store numbers that soared in February. ICSC, Retail Forward, Retail Metrics and RetailSails have all crunched the numbers from the publicly-traded retailers that report same-stores sales and the figures show that the post-holiday shopping period went well for most firms. Retail Metrics said same-store sales rose 4.1 percent. Retail Forward and RetailSails recorded the gain as 3.9 percent. ICSC said sales rose 3.7 percent.

ICSC's tally shows that same-store sales rose 3.7 percent in January, the fifth time in six months that ICSC's index has risen. The result was up from the 3.0 percent rise in January and almost double the roughly 2 percent gain ICSC had been expecting. ICSC expects retailers to post about a 2.5 percent gain in March.

ICSC's numbers are based on 31 retailers. In the commentary in its monthly report, ICSC said:

Many retailers were negatively impacted by February's severe snowstorms, especially in the Northeast. ICSC figures that the industry‐wide weather drag on the February sales growth rate was worth about one percentage point. However, that did not seem to bring to a halt the retail recovery, even in the most weather‐sensitive segments. For example, apparel‐specialty store sales posted a solid 6.8% gainits strongest performance since March 2007 (+7.0%which was impacted by the Easter‐shift in the calendar). Macy's experience in February was typical of the industry. Macy's chairman, president and CEO Terry Lundgren noted that his company's February sales were strong...despite a series of winter storms that affected store operations in some of [Macy's] largest markets during key selling periods of the month.

Contributing to the strength in February chain‐store sales growth was the ongoing easy comparison with the same month of the prior year and a combination of stronger consumer demand in the aftermath of the 2007‐2009 recession's pent‐up spending and better retailer margins, inventory control, product right‐sizing and execution by the retailer.

Here are ICSC's results going back to 1993.

(Click for larger image.)


According to Retail Forward, sales-weighted same-store sales excluding Walmart increased 3.9 percent in February for the 30 retailers that reported numbers. (A pdf with each retailer's results can be downloaded here.) Frank Badillo, senior economist at Retail Forward, said in a statement, Shoppers remain deal-focused and inclined to trade down among products and brands, but they are clearly ready to shop more and make some of the purchases they avoided during the recession.

Retail Metrics, meanwhile, reported that same-store sales increased 4.1 percent. That is the largest monthly gain the company has measured since November 2007. Retail Metrics' numbers include 29 retailers. Of those, 17 posted gains, one had flat sales and 11 posted same-store sales declines. In addition, 78 percent of retailers beat Retail Metrics' expected sales numbers.

According to the firm's monthly report:

These results are very encouraging as we head into March which will benefit from the Easter shift this year. Our Retail Metrics SSS Index rose 4.1% in February posting its biggest monthly gain since November 2007. Retailers exceeded expectations by 110 basis points with all segments except drug stores turning in positive surprises. All of this despite multiple snow

storms in the Midwest & Northeast. Retailers commentary was largely positive (see table of comments below) as consumers seem to be coming out of hibernation.

RetailSails reached the same conclusion as RetailMetrics and says same-store sales rose 3.9 percent in February. The blog's figures include numbers from 30 different retailers.

Despite unseasonably cold temperatures nation-wide and record snowstorms across the Northeast, retailers managed to post another month of solid same-store sales gains in February. While typically one of the lightest months of the year in terms of volume, and no doubt in large part due to extremely easy comparisons to a year ago, February's strong performance nonetheless suggests consumer spending is gaining momentum off of depressed levels.

Here's one chart from the post, but there are more here.

(Click for larger image.)


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