ICSC: Despite Cold, March Retail Sales Could Rise 5 Percent

In Reports, What's New, Industry News by Jeff Prine

Retail Sales

New York—While retailers are still tallying their March receipts, one thing is for certain: the weather sure didn’t help.

“March is trending the coldest since 1996 in the U.S. It’s also the snowiest March since 2002,” said Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services at Planalytics, which analyzes how weather affects consumer demand.

Gold said consumers were shopping very differently in the weeks leading up to Easter this year. March 2012 turned out to be the warmest on record for more than 100 years.

But this year’s shoppers weren’t turning out for spring wear and accessories. Planalytics reports that demand for shorts fell 12% in the fourth week of March versus a year ago and sandals were down 9%. Interest in lawn and garden items fell 21%, delaying the most lucrative season for home improvement stores.

‘Negatively Affected Easter Apparel Demand’

Abnormally cold weather curbs consumer demand for spring goods and apparel, but some companies, including drug chains and dollar stores, are benefiting from the spring’s delay, Gold added.

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reported this week that its ICSCS-Goldman same-store sales index spiked 4.7% week-over-week for the week ending March 30, due in large part to Easter falling on March 31. Year-over-year, the index increased 1.9%.

The index measures comparable store sales at major retail chains, accounting for 10% of total retail sales.

“Despite the abnormally cold weather throughout the eastern United States–which certainly negatively affected the strength of Easter apparel demand–Easter sales combined with some pent-up demand from the prior week drove sales up sharply on a week-over-week basis,” said ICSC Chief Economist Michael Niemira.

Excluding drug stores, the ICSC predicts that March retail sales will increase 4.5% to 5.5%.



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