The Johnson Redbook retail sales index was up 4.5% in the fourth and final week of July following a 3.5% gain the previous week. The month was up 4.3% compared to a year ago, relative to a targeted 4.4% gain. Month-over-month showed a 0.5% drop compared to June, relative to a projected 0.4% decrease.
As in the earlier part of the month, the final week saw steady sales of summer goods. Since July is a clearance month, and retailers sometimes have promoted heavily to drive sales, they point out that elevated volumes do not automatically imply strong margins.
However, most appear to be satisfied with their clearance programs and indicate that they are making smooth inventory shifts into the new fall season. In certain cases, retailers are noticing a firmer tone in sales toward the weekend, especially in apparel, which they attribute to favorable weather conditions and beginning of the back-to-school demand.
Looking forward, August is a four-week month ending Saturday, Aug. 27th. The preliminary target for August is 4.6% same-store growth, which would generate a 0.6% month-to-month comparison to July. Retailers officially report July sales on Aug. 4.