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ShopperTrak reports year-over-year sales up 5.4% for week ending Aug. 28

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago Year-over-year GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby, books and other related store sales) retail sales increased 5.4% for the week ending Aug. 28, while sales slipped 4.6% versus the previous week ending Aug. 21, according to ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate.

As expected, week-over-week sales continued to fall as the annually strong back-to-school shopping season essentially came to a close last week. ShopperTrak expects traffic fared slightly better than then 1.4% decline the company anticipated in late July, while sales are currently in line with the 3.5% increase originally predicted. Final back-to-school data will be released Sept. 7.

Looking at the year-over-year picture, ShopperTrak’s data shows GAFO retail sales continue to perform well versus last year when retailers were mired in the economic downturn. To date, yearly sales have increased 29 out of 34 possible weeks so far in 2010.

“Retail sales are following the same basic script we see every year in August, which is a strong showing the first two weeks of the month followed by declining performance as the month comes to a close and most shoppers have completed their back-to-school spending,” said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak. “Sales will most likely pick back up later this week behind Labor Day promotions and this should continue into next week as the extra day off on Monday will boost both traffic and sales.”

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Report: Small uptick in August sales

BY CSA STAFF

A report released Wednesday by MasterCard Advisors found that, in August, sales in most categories recorded a slight year-over-year uptick compared to the year-over-year performance of July.

According to the SpendingPulse report — based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and check — some categories were boosted by back-to-school spending.

“Categories such as apparel and electronics appear to have been helped by the back-to-school season, which tends to peak in August, although some spending in apparel can be pushed back into September as parents delay purchasing fall and winter clothing until cooler weather conditions set in,” said Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for SpendingPulse.

In addition, he said, the hot and dry conditions in August helped the overall restaurant sector while the continued volatile financial markets performance negatively impacted the luxury sector and, to a lesser extent, the jewelry sector. Tax-free weekends in Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts boosted results as well. “As a result, year-over-year comparisons in electronics, office supplies and apparel benefited,” he said.

Total U.S. apparel sales was back in positive territory in August, up 2.6% year-over-year, following July’s 1.1% decrease. This category, on a year-over-year basis, has been up five out of eight months this year. All sub-sectors except for women’s apparel and men’s apparel posted increases, with the children’s category up a solid 8.4% year-over-year, and family apparel up 4.1%. Footwear posted a modest increase of 0.9%. Following July’s sharp decline, men’s apparel was down only 1.9% in August, while women’s apparel, down 1.9% in July, slipped a little further in August, declining 2.7% year-over-year.

Consumer electronics and appliances showed increases on a year-over-year basis. While the consumer electronics category was up 2.3%, the appliances category recorded a 9.4% increase.

E-commerce sales growth slowed in August to 7.2%, which although well into positive territory, was the smallest year-over-year increase in 2010.

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Costco takes stand on on supplier treatment of animals

BY CSA STAFF

ISSAQUAH, Wash. Costco has commented on video showing the mistreatment of some young animals saying: “The company had not been aware of the issue before we saw the video. We are extremely disappointed, not only with the performance of our supplier in this instance, but with our own performance as well. We hold ourselves to a high standard, and in this case, we plainly did not perform to that standard.”

Costco said it is in the process of developing a more definitive written policy to make clear its long-standing position that any type of cruel treatment of animals is unacceptable. All of Costco’s suppliers are aware that Costco insists upon ethical treatment of all animals involved in producing products for sale in its warehouses, without exception, the company said. Costco said it has an inspection program to ensure that its suppliers are in compliance with its standards, but in this case that inspection program did not uncover the problem. The company said it takes full responsibility for this error. It will increase its vigilance in the future to see that its policies are adhered to by all of Costco’s suppliers, the company reported.

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