WASHINGTON (MNI) – The following is the commentary from the
ICSC-Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot released Tuesday:

The retail sales performance for August has been mixed in recent
weeks with sequential change weak over the last four weeks, but
year-over-year growth continues to show moderate strength. For the week
ending August 18, weekly retail sales declined by 1.5%, according to the
International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Goldman Sachs
Weekly Chain Store Sales Index. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales
remained healthy at a gain of 3.1%

“Retail sales continue to be mixed with weekly sales growth
slipping but yearly momentum relatively healthy,” said Michael Niemira,
ICSC vice president of research and chief economist. “Consumer traffic
was a bit stronger over the past week, according to the ICSC-Goldman
Sachs consumer tracking survey, as consumers were possibly enticed by
the array of back-to-school retailer promotions from free haircuts to
sweepstakes to win iPads,” Niemira added.

State tax holidays were present during this past week in Maryland
(August 12 to 18) and Texas (August 17]19) and both occurred last year
as well. The only state to still hold its state tax holiday for
back]to]school purchases will be Connecticut (August 19]25). The
ICSC]GS consumer tracking survey found that overall customer traffic
was stronger this past week than last week, possibly helped by the array
of retailer back]to]school promotions, including free haircuts and
sweepstakes to win iPads. Weather was a neutral factor overall, but
helpful in the East. According to Weather Trends, Inc. (WTI) the U.S.
average temperature was 0.5 degrees F cooler than last year, but 0.5
degrees F above normal. WTI observed although the average temperature
was largely neutral for the country overall, this past week’s average
was still “the coldest third week of a retail August in 4 years with
colder trends in the East. Colder weather, especially after a long, hot
summer, will have been very favorable for back-to-school shopping. The
West, however, was hot with temperatures trending the warmest in 21+
years for the third week of the retail August; demand for summer
clearance and consumables, such as cold beverages, ice cream, sun care,
and auto batteries, will have been much stronger than last year.”
Meanwhile, gasoline prices at the pump continued to move higher over the
last week and crimp discretionary purchasing power and maybe cause
consumers to think about more basic back-to-school items. The U.S.
average regular]grade gasoline price posted its seventh consecutive
increase and rose by 2.3 cents per gallon to $3.744 on August 20,
according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Cumulatively,
over the past seven weeks, the price of a gallon of regular]grade
gasoline rose by 38.8 cents and, on a year]over]year, posted its
second consecutive increase — up 4.6 — from the same week of the prior
year after 17 weeks of decline.

** MNI Washington Bureau: 202-371-2121 **