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    U.S. chain store sales down 5 percent in July

    Leaner inventories and a shift in state sales-tax holidays hampered U.S. chain store sales in July, which were off 5 percent on a same-store basis, compared with the same period last year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

    Leaner inventories and a shift in state sales-tax holidays hampered U.S. chain store sales in July, which were off 5 percent on a same-store basis, compared with the same period last year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

    Despite the dip in sales, however, July chain store sales were in line with the ICSC’s expectations for the industry, and were consistent with the recent trends seen in May and June, according to ICSC chief economist and director of research Michael P. Niemira. ”

    July sales were hampered by leaner inventories as retailers looked to clear out merchandise. Additionally, many states pushed their back-to-school sales-tax holidays into August as opposed to July of last year. This sales-tax-holiday calendar shift likely pared about 0.5 percentage points from July’s sales growth,” said Niemira.

    Target reported a comparable-store sales decrease of 6.5 percent for the month, which the company said was in line with expectations. Its net retail sales for the four weeks ending Aug. 1, 2009, were $4,418 million, down 3.2 percent from the $4,566 million for the four weeks ending Aug. 2, 2008.

    Costco’s same-store sales numbers were down 7 percent. It was affected more at its U.S. stores, where comps were down 8 percent, than at international locations, which fell 5 percent. Total sales fell 5 percent, to $5.41 billion.

    For the second quarter ended Aug. 1, same-store sales decreased 15.5 percent, and owned sales decreased 14.6 percent to $555.9 million, compared with $650.9 million for the second quarter ended Aug. 2, 2008.

    For the six months ended Aug. 1, 2009, same-store sales decreased 22.4 percent, and owned sales decreased 21.6 percent to $1,171 million, compared with $1,493.3 million for the six months ended Aug. 2, 2008.

    Looking ahead, the ICSC expects same-store sales for August will be off 4 percent year-over-year, with the later back-to-school shopping season and an improved underlying economy giving a small boost.

    - Nielsen Business Media

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