Retailers, consumers and prices
A modest proposal regarding same-store sales reports
In recent years a number of retailers have stopped reporting monthly sales data, including Macy’s, CVS, and Family Dollar.
The reports are snapshots of the performance of individual retailers, but the pictures can be fuzzy, especially given the timing of holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And as a barometer for the greater consumer economy, the monthly reports are incomplete at best, given that electronics and home improvement retailers don’t report. Oh, and those Internet sales aren’t captured, either.
Richard Hastings, consumer strategist at Global Hunter Securities, has this take on monthly sales reports:
“Fewer retailers than ever are reporting monthly comparable store sales. The data set should not be used, in our opinion, to interpret the broader consumer economy. We expect the number of retailers participating in monthly sales reporting to continue to decline, eventually resulting in quarterly-only comparable store sales data for the entire industry by perhaps mid-2009.”
That might be nice for those looking at a steadier barometer for the consumer segment. But it does not look like it is going to happen.
“I don’t think there’s any big picture talk on that,” Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation, the retail industry trade group, said. “In fact, I know there’s not.”
So the data should remain. Just remember that as a proxy for the entire economy, the monthly sales reports have flaws.