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ICSC: Valentine’s Can’t Sufficiently Sweeten Mixed Retail Prospects

For the seven days ended February 16, mixed influences still managed to reverse the prior week’s decline in the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Weekly Chain Store Sales Index. Still, despite a Valentine’s Day customer traffic lift at some stores, the pace of retail sales gains continued to weaken and slow to 1.8% versus the comparable 2012 week, ICSC announced.  

“The retail landscape continues to be uneven by segment and uneven by week in February,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC vp/research and chief economist. “Although Valentine’s Day shopping may have helped some segments of the industry over the past week, higher gasoline prices— and pinched discretionary spending power— higher payroll taxes and the slower pace of federal tax refunds are all weighing on the consumers’ ability to spend,” Niemira added. 

Given the performance over the past two weeks, ICSC Research has paired its February forecast by 50-100 basis points and anticipates a monthly sales increase of 2.5% to 3.0%, excluding drug stores.