–Indications Soften But March Gain Likely
By Mark Pender
NEW YORK (MNI) – MNI’s U.S. retail trade index fell back more than
4-1/2 points in the April 3 period to 59.2, a reading still well above
50 to indicate significant year-on-year growth and still pointing to a
gain for March retail sales, according to Market News International’s
weekly survey released Monday.
There was wide easing in sales indications as total sales slowed by
1.2 percentage points to a year-on-year +3.1% with same-store sales
slowing nine-tenths to +1.4%. Income held firm at +25%.
The sales dip is against the sample’s targets for March which are
+5% for total sales and +2% for same-store sales. Sample size in the
latest period is 121 chains consisting of 93,000 retail locations.
Indications for the March ex-auto, ex-gas category, though much
stronger earlier in the month, still point to a third straight
month-to-month gain. Any weakness here appears almost certainly to be
offset by sharp strength in both motor vehicles and gasoline.
Both new and used auto dealerships are very positive though there
are indications of wide price concessions in the month and seasonal
adjustments will pull back gains.
Unit sales of new autos, posted Thursday, show a nearly 15%
adjusted month-to-month rise. New car sales make up about 70% of the
motor vehicle component and about 12% of total sales.
Indications on the gasoline component, which makes up 10% of total
sales, eased at month end as prices and demand leveled. And the
component, compared with February, will get much less of a boost from
the seasonal adjustment. But the year-on-year look shows a roughly 40%
rise in price, little change in demand, and little change in adjustment
which combined point to a big month-to-month gain for the component.
Early indications for April in general are positive. Though this
year’s Easter, one week earlier than last year, pulled sales into March,
the Commerce Department’s seasonal adjustments for April look very
favorable and may more than make up the difference.
A run of chain stores will post their March numbers on Thursday.
Drug-store chain Walgreens (WAG) morning report was positive, and look
for home-furnishing chain Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and discount chain
Family Dollar Stores (FDO) later in the day.
Editor’s Note: MNI compiles its retail trade index based on a
weekly sample of company news and data.
** Market News International New York Newsroom: 212-669-6430 **