November Same-Store Sales Stay Positive but Weaken | SalesAndMarketing.com
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November Same-Store Sales Stay Positive but Weaken

Department stores feel the pinch as consumers continue to seek discounts

Retail same-store sales stayed positive, but weakened in November compared with October, Retail Forward reports. Most retailers reported strong results for the Black Friday weekend, but weaker results earlier in the month.

Sales-weighted, same-store sales weakened to a 0.9 percent gain in November for 31 retailers--most of them apparel retailers--reporting monthly results today. This is worse than the 2.3 percent gain last month, but better than the 7.7 percent decline in November 2008 for the same composite measure calculated without Wal-Mart, which no longer reports its figures. Retailers said that warm November weather dampened sales of winter clothing, but that shoppers responded well to post-Thanksgiving promotions. The same-store sales results for November were led by stronger-than-average results at apparel and accessories stores, and food, drug and mass retailers.

Warehouse club sales faired very well, with Costco's same-store sales jumping 9 percent to $6.04 billion for the four weeks ended Nov. 29, marking the club's third consecutive month of increase. BJ’s also saw significant sales increases (6.4 percent with a total of $833.6 million), which ended its consecutive decline since March.

Other retailers also posted gains. Walgreen’s same-store sales grew 8.7 percent to total about $5.36 billion, while Target’s same-store sales inched up 1.5 percent to total $5.689 billion. Rite Aid, however, reported a slight loss of 0.8 percent, with front-end sales declining 2.4 percent and pharmacy sales remaining flat.

Department stores by far experienced the greatest losses, with Saks falling 25.1 percent to $245.1 million for the four weeks ended Nov. 28. Macy’s total sales dropped to $2.324 billion (down 6.3 percent) and same-store sales fell 6.1 percent for the four weeks ended Nov. 29, while J.C. Penney was down 5.9 percent. Both Saks and Macy’s expect fourth-quarter sales totals to be down, as well.

November’s results reflect continuing improvement--albeit uneven from month-to-month--in shoppers’ intentions to spend. Spending plans reported by shoppers in November were the best since February 2008, according to Retail Forward’s November ShopperScape survey, which revealed that more than half of shoppers (53 percent) plan to maintain near-term spending levels about the same as last year, which is only the second time since February 2008 that more than half of shoppers planned to do so. The percentage of shoppers planning to curb their near-term spending declined to 37 percent in November, the lowest percentage since February 2008. Few shoppers (10 percent) plan to spend more than last year, but that’s the largest share since September 2008.

Spending plans are being held back by income concerns, but may be getting a boost from improvement in other aspects of households’ financial health, according to the November ShopperScape survey. Fewer shoppers feel better off about their household income this November (23 percent) compared with last November (27 percent). More shoppers feel better off about their debt levels--credit cards and monthly mortgage and car payments--compared with last November. Shoppers feel particularly more positive than last year about their investments and to a lesser extent their home values, although those feeling worse off still far outnumber those feeling better off.

For the holidays, the ShopperScape results suggest that household spending will be somewhere between last year and 2007--which was weak as the country was entering the recession, but was not as bad as the 2008 holiday. Nine percent of shoppers plan to spend more this holiday compared with last year--an improvement from the 7 percent last year, but down from the 14 percent in 2007. Forty-two percent of shoppers intend to spend about the same amount as they did last year--up from the 35 percent in 2008, but less than the 48 percent in 2007. Forty-three percent of shoppers plan to spend less this holiday compared with last year--fewer than the 53 percent last year, but more than the 33 percent in 2007.

— Nielsen Business Media