December Comps Gain 3.2%

New York City, Aflurry of shopping in late December helped retailers post a moderately strong month of sales. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), year-over-year comp-store sales for the industry increased 3.2%. This year’s tally bested December 2004, which showed comp-store-sales growth of 2.7%.

For the two-month holiday period, comps grew 3.5%, much stronger than the 2.3% gain registered in the same two-month period in 2004. For all of 2005, chain-store comps grew 3.7%, just off the pace of the previous year. The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, finished the month with comps of 2.2%, near the low end of its previous guidance, while rival Target Corp. posted a gain of 4.7%. One of the glaring sales disappointments is Gap Inc., which posted a comp-store decline of 9.0% in the month. In January, the ICSC expects same-store sales to increase 3.0% to 3.5%.

Other notable comp-store performances include:

Abercrombie & Fitch, 29.0% gain

Chico’s FAS, 16.4% gain

Costco Wholesale, 7.0% gain

Guess?, 17.5% gain

New York & Co.; 10.9% gain

Sharper Image, 15.0% decline

United Retail, 16.0% gain

Wet Seal, 38.5% gain

Wilsons Leather, 7.7% decline

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