“The fiscal month of February got off to a chilly start,” begins the ICSC-Goldman Sachs retail sales report for the first week of February. Largely due to a massive snow storm hammering the Northeast, retail sales gave up the previous week’s momentum and declined 2.5 percent for the week ended February 9. Year over year, ICSC reported a 2.1 percent increase in sales, a decline from the previous rate of 2.6 percent year-over-year growth.
Last Friday, as the storm brewed and every other headline contained a pun about finding Nemo, economists and investors speculated about the possible impact of the storm. Not only were thousands of flights cancelled or delayed, but businesses, schools, roads, and public transportation were shut down ahead of and during the storm, pretty much bringing commerce in the Northeast to a standstill. The negative impact on comparable store sales at major retail chains, which is what the ICSC-Goldman report tracks, was obvious.
But where there were losers, there were also winners. “Grocery stores, wholesale clubs and drug stores seemed to benefit from the stock-up effect ahead of the blizzard,” commented Michael Niemira, ICSC vice president of research and chief economist. For the entire month of February, ICSC research forecast a 3.5 percent increase in sales excluding drug stores.
Complimenting the ICSC-Goldman report was the slightly-more turbulent Redbook report, which showed a 2.4 percent year-over-year increase in sales…