FINANCE

NRF Sees Tepid Rise for Retail Sales in 2008

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Retail sales are expected to rise at the slowest pace in six years as shoppers worry about a slumping housing market and slower job growth, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The retail trade group released its 2008 economic outlook at its annual conference in New York City on Monday.

Total retail sales are slated to grow 3.5%, falling below last year’s estimated 4.0% pace and marking the weakest growth since 2002, when retail sales climbed 3.0%, the NRF said. The retail sales figure excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants. The final 2007 figure won’t be known until Tuesday when the Commerce Department is slated to report December’s total retail sales figures.

“The consumer is full of anxiety,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist at NRF, noting a number of financial pressures that are weighing on shoppers, from higher gas costs to tightening credit. “Retailers will once again be forced to market to more practical consumers, many of whom will be looking to trade down. Even areas of past high growth like luxury goods and online shopping will feel the pressure. In 2008, the challenges will be formidable for everyone.”

Wells expects sluggish sales in the first half of the year to eventually give way to strong sales in the third and fourth quarter, as she believes that a move by the Federal Reserve to further cut interest rates will help revive the economy.

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Books-A-Million holiday sales up 5.3%

BY CSA STAFF

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Books-A-Million Thursday announced 5.3% increase in sales for the holiday period.

The company reported that sales for the nine weeks ended Jan. 5 were $130.8 million compared with $124.2 million for the same period last year. Comparable-store sales for the period were flat compared with the same period last year. 

 

Commenting on the results, Sandra Cochran, president and ceo, said, The sales environment for the holiday season proved challenging as we confronted softening economic conditions and a value conscious consumer. Nonetheless, we saw good results in a number of our core book categories as well as strong performances in bargain books and the gift department.”

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Macy’s Inc. Nov.-Dec. comps down 1.1%

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI Macy’s Inc. Thursday reported total sales of $4.6 billion for the five weeks ended Jan. 5, a decrease of 7.4 % compared to total sales of $5 billion in the five weeks ended Dec. 30, 2006.

The company reported that on a same-store basis, Macy’s Inc. sales were down 7.9% in December. According to the company, this is below guidance for December same-store sales to be down between 4% and 7%.

For the November-December period combined, Macys Inc.s same-store sales were down 1.1%.

Given the calendar shift between November and December, we noted previously that the two-month holiday selling period needed to be viewed together rather than each month individually, said Terry Lundgren, Macys Inc. chairman, president and ceo. After a strong November, we had hoped that a more positive sales trend would continue through December. But macroeconomic trends led customers to spend cautiously for the holiday. That said, we remain on track to be within our guidance for same-store sales in the fourth quarter, albeit at the low end of the range of down 2% to up 1%. 

The company expects January same-store sales to be down by 4% to 6% compared with last year.

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