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February Sales Up 4.2 Percent
U.S. same-store sales for February surpassed expectations and rose 4.2 percent year on year, according to ICSC’s index. Most encouraging, every retail segment outperformed its February 2010 showing by at least 2.1 percent.
Sales at luxury stores leaped 10.1 percent year on year for February, while wholesale clubs jumped 7.7 percent. Even with fuel sales excluded, wholesale clubs rose 4.7 percent.
“The breadth and the strength of the sales gain in February was encouraging as more retailers and retail segments participated in the improvement,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “This widespread improvement is on the heels of improving labor markets, broader improving economic conditions, and the reduction in payroll tax — all of which are more than offsetting the potentially negative drag of high fuel and food prices on consumer mind-sets.”
ICSC is projecting that March sales will be flat or up by 2 percent at most, year on year, attributable to an Easter calendar shift that is likely to hinder sales. The holiday, which fell on April 4 last year, falls on April 24 this year. The organization expects April sales, however, to rise a healthy 5 percent year on year.