U.S. chain-store sales rose by 3.5% year on year in December, as tracked by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). This rate was slightly below earlier estimates. For the two-month Christmas holiday shopping period, however, chain-store sales rose by 3.3% – in line with ICSC’s forecast.
Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s vice president of research and chief economist commented,
“There was a lot of unevenness across the segments in December which curbed growth, but looking at the month from an overall standpoint the performance was good relative to its long term trend.
Unfavorable weather throughout the holiday shopping season was cited by many apparel retailers as a reason for softer demand, which ultimately led to an increase in discounting and some profit warnings. Additionally, our surveys suggest that gift-card purchases were higher this season, which may have limited the December performance, but bodes well for future demand.”
With an eye on sales for January 2012, ICSC expects chain-store sales to inch higher by 3% year on year. This would line with stronger numbers seen in construction and manufacturing over the December period.