Friday, April 10, 2009

In March Retailing Report, Bright Spots Are Few

Costco shoppers in Mountain View, Calif. Costco sales fell 5 percent in March.
The New York Times - Retailers posted another month of disappointing sales in March, signaling that consumers are not yet ready to come out of hiding.

Only a handful of chains on Thursday reported an increase in sales at stores open at least a year, a measure of retail health. Wal-Mart Stores, the nation’s largest retailer and a bellwether for the industry, had a 1.4 percent increase over March 2008, not including fuel. Other discount stores like TJX and Ross Stores, as well as some teenage apparel chains, also fared well.

But a majority of the nation’s retailers continued to suffer sales declines. Abercrombie & Fitch was most notable, with a stunning 34 percent drop that analysts attributed to its strategy of not offering the same deep discounts as its competitors. Sales at other mall apparel chains and department stores remained weak.

For the last few months, retailers have taken all sorts of measures to ride out the bleak economy. They have cut costs, hoarded cash and reduced inventory by cutting orders and running sales and unprecedented promotions. Now, they must wait.

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