October Sales Point to Retail Recovery

October Sales Point to Retail Recovery

In a sign of a continuing retail recovery, October 2009 U.S. comparable-store sales rose by 2.1 percent from the same month of 2008, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Chain Store Sales Index. This is the strongest gain since April 2008 (when sales rose 3.3 percent), and is the second consecutive monthly increase after 13 monthly declines.

ICSC reports that all major segments outperformed their year-to-date results, even the previously-struggling luxury sector, which posted a 1.8 percent comp-store increase--its first gain since May 2008. Neiman Marcus reported a 6 percent comp gain.

Experts speculate that positive factors such as favorable weather early in the month that drove apparel demand and an improving economy helped October’s performance.

October again showed positive signs from shoppers, according to an analysis from Frank Badillo, senior economist at Columbus, Ohio-based consultancy Retail Forward. However, shoppers remain wary of spending more for the holidays than last year, a Retail Forward ShopperScape survey notes. Only 7 percent of the survey respondents plan to increase their spending on gifts. The overall consensus is that retailers generally remain very cautious in their expectations for the season, though ICSC Research predicts November 2009 sales will increase 5 percent to 8 percent over November 2008.