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U.S. Retail Sales Post Smaller Growth in October

Same-store retail sales for October were up 1.7 percent, a smaller increase compared to the gains in September with 2.8 percent and October 2009's 2.3 percent, according to Kantar Retail's monthly report of 31 U.S. retailers.October's increase was led by

Same-store retail sales for October were up 1.7 percent, a smaller increase compared to the gains in September with 2.8 percent and October 2009's 2.3 percent, according to Kantar Retail's monthly report of 31 U.S. retailers.

October's increase was led by food, drug and mass retailers and apparel and accessory stores, while department stores lagged.

Zumiez reported the largest gain for the second consecutive month among all retailers posting a 21.5 percent increase, followed by Tandy Leather Factory at 10 percent, Limited Brands at 9.0 percent and Ross Stores at 4.0 percent. Department stores reporting increases to Kantar included Neiman Marcus at 11.5 percent, Saks at 8.1 percent, Nordstrom at 3.4 percent and Macy's at 2.5 percent. In addition, Target posted a 1.7 percent gain.

Declines included Hot Topic at -8.5 percent, Stein Mart at -6.5 percent, Bon-Ton Stores at -4.2 percent, Duckwall-Alco Stores at -3.7 percent, Stage Stores at -3.5 percent, Kohl's at -2.5 percent, JCPenney at -1.9 percent and Dillard's at -1.0 percent.

"It's not surprising that retail spending eased up in the face of year-ago comparison periods that were tougher for many retailers and warm October weather that discouraged clothing purchases," says Frank Badillo, Kantar Retail's senior economist. "Improving spending intentions among shoppers should ensure that sales growth does not sag too much as the year-ago comparison periods get even tougher into November and December."

In related news, ShopperTrak's National Retail Sales Estimate reported that year-over-year GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture, sporting goods, electronics, hobby and books) retail sales increased by 1.1 percent for the week ending on Oct. 30, while sales slid 3.8 percent compared to the previous week ending on Oct. 23.

"Although the week-over-week decline was slightly larger than we anticipated, last week's overall performance wasn't beyond the normal for those retailers in the GAFO segment," says Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak. "Over the next two weeks our data suggests retailers will see minimal weekly gains as consumers transition from fall spending to winter and holiday spending in late November on Black Friday, or the official start of the 2010 holiday shopping season."

For a list of results from Kantar Retail: http://www.retailforward.com/retailintel/samestr_sales.pdf.

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