COLUMBUS -- February warmed up retailers€™ sagging spirits with rising sales numbers. Close to every store type saw sales gains, which pointed to shoppers ignoring winter storms and soaring pump prices to spend.
A Kantar Retail report found that same-store sales advanced 4.4 percent last month, a slight drop from January€™s 4.9 percent increase. However, February€™s numbers were above February€™s 2010 gain of 3.9 percent.
"Higher fuel prices will have an ongoing impact on shoppers, particularly lower-income shoppers," said Frank Badillo, Kantar senior economist, in a press release. "But that impact will be offset somewhat as long as households see a continuing pickup in income and job gains in the months ahead."
The results were led by stronger-than-average results at department stores, followed by food, drug and mass retailers. Apparel and accessory stores lagged behind. "The results also held up despite slightly tougher year-ago comparisons, but those comparisons are likely to take a toll in the coming months€"even factoring out the Easter shift from March to late April this year," said Badillo.
February€™s results held up despite the deterioration in shoppers€™ spending intentions, probably in response to higher fuel prices. The weakening of spending intentions ended four consecutive months of improvement.
The percentage of shoppers planning to spend less in the coming month compared with the same period a year ago jumped by 2 percentage points to 36 percent (in terms of a three-month moving average). The percentage of shoppers planning to spend about the same fell by about 1 percentage point to 55 percent.