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Department Store Slowdown Dampens Retail Sales Growth in November

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Total retail sales growth edged lower in November, pressured by sluggish results at department, chain and discount stores, according to data released by the US Department of Commerce. Sales grew 3.5% on a 12-month smoothed basis, slightly below October’s 3.6% growth rate.
Autos had a positive impact on total sales in November. Taking autos out of the mix, total retail sales increased by only 3%.
Total retail inventory surged by 8% in October (the most recent month for which this measure is available), equal to September’s increase. Total inventory-to-sales ratios rose slightly.

nov retail 1

Department, discount and chain store sales fell by almost 4% in November, their biggest monthly drop since July 2009. Many large retailers blamed the disappointing sales on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when flooding and power outages caused temporary store closures or reduced foot traffic. Big store inventory dropped by 4.8%, and inventory-to-sales ratio rose slightly as well.

nov retail 4

The specialty apparel store sector had a very good month, however. Sales growth increased to 5.9% in November, their biggest increase in 8 months, on an only 3.8% increase in inventory the month before. The inventory to sales ratio fell for specialty stores in October.

nov retail 3

The combined department, chain, discount and apparel specialty retail sector, a traditionally reliable barometer of total apparel sales, enjoyed a sales improvement of only 1.5% on a 12-month smoothed basis, slightly below the prior month’s 1.6% gain, due to the softness in the big store sector.

nov retail 2

Retail Sales & Inventory
$MM — Adjusted for Seasonality

Nov-12

Oct-12

Nov-11

Total US Retail Sales

412,403

411,308

397,678

Department Store Sales

14,964

15,092

15,436

Apparel Specialty Stores

20,362

20,177

19,141

Total Dept & Specialty

35,326

35,269

34,577

Oct-12

Sep-12

Oct-11

M & B Specialty Sales

N/A

N/A

N/A

W & G Specialty Sales

3,557

3,505

3,242

Total Retail Inventory

506,150

503,262

467,616

Dept Store Inventory

29,695

29,216

30,838

Apparel Specialty Inv

47,897

47,956

46,132

Dept & Spec Inv:Sales

2.20

2.19

2.23

 

 

 

 

 

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