U.S. chain store sales posted a stronger than anticipated 4.2% year-over-year comparable-store gain for February 2011 according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).


“The breadth and the strength of the sales gain in February was encouraging as more retailers and retail segments participated in the improvement,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. ”This widespread improvement is on
the heels of improving labor markets, broader improving economic conditions, and the reduction payroll tax – all of which are more than offsetting the potentially negative drag of high fuel and food prices on consumer mindsets.”

The shift in the date of Easter this year compared with last (April 4, 2010 vs. April 24, 2011) will create some unevenness in the sales pace over the next two months. For March, ICSC projects sales will be flat to up 2% as the Easter shift will be a drag on
sales. However, things should even out quickly and for April ICSC’s early expectations are for an increase of about 5%.

ICSC Chain Store Sales Trends is a monthly report on the U.S. retail industry's sales performance based on an ICSC preliminary compilation of publicly-available sales for 28 chain stores during the month of December. Industry sales aggregates are compiled for “comparable-store” or “same-store” sales and for total store sales. Those data are presented as an index. Comparable-store sales are also compiled for specializedindustry groupings, which include aggregates for apparel chain stores, department
stores, discount stores, drug stores, footwear stores and wholesale clubs.