March proved dismal for all retailers outside the club and discount channels as monthly comps declined for the vast majority of retailers covered in this chart. 


A tally of 37 retail-chain stores compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers suggests that consolidated retail comp sales decline 0.5% for the month. That decline was the weakest year-over-year sales performance since April 2007, when comps declined 1.9%, which reflected – in part – the impact of the Easter shift. March 2008 posted the weakest March results since 1995 when comps slipped 0.8%.

The group estimated the shift in the Easter date combined with one less shopping day in this current year’s month trimmed industry year-over-year sales by about 250 basis points.

Excluding the impact of Wal-Mart, comps would have faired even worse for the month, down 2.3%. Teen retailers saw comps drop 8.2% for the month as Apparel retailer comps slid 11.2%. Even Lux retailers felt the pinch as comps declined 5.3% for that group which had been somewhat insulated.


Overall Department store comps decline 8.2% for the month.
According to data compiled by retail point-of-sale firm SportScanINFO, Sport Apparel sales were slightly positive for the month, but Sport Footwear was down. Sport Footwear sales decreased in the low-singles in dollars with relatively flat average selling prices.


However, full line sporting goods retailers had an especially difficult month as sales were down in the mid-teens in dollars. Nike’s SPARQ Performance Trainers program failed to deliver at retail, while Under Armour’s anticipated launch will not occur until early May. The mall athletic retailers were basically flat in Sport Footwear, though ASP improved slightly. Family footwear saw a mid-singles increase in dollars for the month.

Sport Apparel sales performed somewhat better than footwear, with sales just above flat in dollars, though ASP declined. Full line sporting goods retailers saw success with Sport Apparel as sales improved in the mid-singles on a healthy ASP rise, but mall specialty suffered, down double-digits as those retailers shifted focus to footwear programs, taking floorspace away from apparel offerings. Club/discount/mass retailers had a strong month, more or less picking up the slack left by the mall guys.


As Action Sports Retailers See Drag from Footwear and Seasonal Goods…


Pacific Sunwear of California, Inc. reported sales at its PacSun division of  decreased 7.8% to $115.3 million from $125.0 million during the same period last year. Same-store sales decreased 8% during the same period.

The company reported that sales were up low-30s for the month’s third week, which led into Easter, but were down mid-30s, in week five, which comped against the week leading into Easter last year. Geographically, comps were strongest in Texas and weakest in the desert Southwest, California and Florida.

Apparel sales drove a 4% comp increase. Juniors' apparel comps were up double-digits, driven by continued strength in tops, bullhead denim and dresses, partially offset by weakness in the seasonal categories of shorts and swim. Young men's apparel comps were down low-single-digits. Strength in tops and denim was offset by weakness in the seasonal categories of shorts and swim. Accessory comps were down mid-20’s and footwear comps were down high-40’s.

Transactions for comp store were down high-single-digits and the average transaction value per comp store was down low-single-digits.
On Feb. 3, 2008, the company began liquidation sales in its 153 demo stores. The company will report demo as a discontinued operation in quarterly filings beginning with the first quarter of fiscal 2008 ending May 3, 2008. Total March sales from these demo liquidation stores were $13.4 million and total demo sales for the first nine weeks of fiscal 2008 were $27.0 million.

The Buckle, Inc. saw March comps jump 20.9% over the year-ago period. Net sales for the fiscal month increased 28.7% to $63.6 million from net sales of $49.4 million last year.

On the men's side of the business, total sales were up approximately 30.5% from the prior year period. For the fiscal month, overall price points on the men's side of the business were up approximately 8.5%. On the women's side, total sales were up approximately 27.5% with overall price points up approximately 3.5%. Accessory sales for the fiscal month increased approximately 25%, but footwear sales declined approximately 18.5%. Average accessory price points were up approximately 5% and average footwear price points were down approximately 4.5% for the fiscal month.

Zumiez Inc. reported sales for the five-weeks ended April 5 increased 11.3% to $31.5 million, compared to $28.3 million a year ago. Comps declined 3% versus a 17% gain a year ago.

Total sales growth for the month was driven by new stores, offset by comparable store sales declines. The decrease in comparable store sales was driven by a decrease in transactions, partially offset by an increase in average unit retail.

Men's and juniors clothing were the primary drivers of the negative comps, somewhat offset by skate hardgoods and boys', which comped positive. The retailer ended the five-week period with a store count of 298 stores, of which 248 are comp stores.