According to ActionWatch, and as reported in Transworld Business, core stores on the ActionWatch Retail Panel saw lower comp sales declines in May than they experienced in the first quarter. Although the declines were slightly greater than in April, May is an important indicator month because it did not contain any shifted holidays (April included Easter this year while March had Easter last year). While we cannot confirm with certainty that the core retail channel has found a bottom, May’s numbers provide increasing evidence that this may be the case.
Sales for all the product categories tracked by ActionWatch were down 15.2% in May 2009 compared to May 2008 . As in April, Apparel was again the best performing category with sales that were down only 13.5% compared to last year. The worst performing category was Accessories which experienced a comparative sales decline of nearly 20%.
Skirts had large comp sales increases again in May making the class an increasingly meaningful product class for core retailers. While skirt sales are still significantly lower than sales of dresses, skirt sales were actually higher than those of pants or denim classes for the female gender in May. For the male gender, the Pants class (all non-denim pants) had a strong month in May with a 17% sales increase over last year.
Retailers can also be happy to see a reduction in comp sales declines for the Hardgoods category. At -15%, May provided the best year-over-year sales numbers for hardgoods we have seen so far this year.
– Cary Allington