Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=111401
Story Retrieval Date: 5/22/2013 8:01:40 PM CST
The drop continued a downward trend of six straight months of negative retail sales growth. The bureau also revised the November retail sales figure downward from a 1.8 percent decrease to 2.1 percent decline.
December’s retail sales were 9.8 percent below those of December 2007.
In reports released Jan. 8, Sears Holdings Corp. announced that Sears stores saw a same-store sales decrease of 13 percent from the prior year. The same day Nordstrom Inc. reported an 11 percent decline in same-store sales, and Macy’s Inc. announced a 4 percent drop.
Same-store sales generally indicate that stores have been open at least 12 months.
None of the retailers divide sales figures by region or individual store, but Peter Gill, communications director for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said historically Chicago’s retail numbers have been close to the national average.
Regardless, the size of the December sales drop was unexpected.
“Some analysts had suggested it may go up 1 or 2 percent,” Gill said.
For the first time since it began tracking holiday sales in 1995, the National Retail Federation reported a 2.8 percent drop in sales from $460.2 billion in 2007 to $447.5 billion in 2008.
Discount retailers performed better over the holidays than most, Gill said, a fact supported by Kmart reporting a year-over-year same-store sales decline of only 1.1 percent.
Clothing and clothing accessories stores were hard hit, down 9.4 percent this holiday season compared to last, according to the NRF.
“It is what it is and retailers struggled with the rest of the economy last year,” Gill said.
Some Chicago retailers, though, weren’t without hope.
Macy’s in Woodfield Mall was one of 13 Macy’s stores nationwide that was open 108 hours straight leading up to Christmas Eve. “That was very well received,” Macy’s spokeswoman Andrea Schwartz said. “We had customers all 24 hours of the day.”
At Water Tower Place, Abercrombie & Fitch Assistant Manager Dan Dougherty said the store was very busy during the holidays, in large part because of the tourist traffic on Michigan Avenue.