U.S. chain-store sales rose by 3.5 percent year on year in December, which was below earlier estimates as tracked by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). For the two-month Christmas holiday shopping period, however, chain-store sales rose by 3.3 percent and that figure was in line with ICSC’s forecast.
”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,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s vice president of research and chief economist. ”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.”
Looking towards the end of this current month, ICSC expects chain-store sales to inch higher by 3 percent year on year.