Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Early or late — Thanksgiving shift doesn’t phase Wal-Mart

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Retailers say it can be difficult to measure their monthly sales results accurately on a year-over-year basis because of calendar shifts — sometimes a holiday falls in one month, boosting results, while the next year the holiday shifts into a different month, hurting results.

The most drastic case of this is usually seen in March and April, when the timing of the Easter holiday can help March sales and hurt April, or vice versa.

As monthly sales results came in today, numerous retailers, including Target, Saks, and Pacific Sunwear, said the timing of Thanksgiving (Nov 27 this year vs. Nov 22 last year) hurt their November results. The later Thanksgiving meant fewer busy post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping days in this year’s November period, they said, making sales figures look especially weak.

For instance, Target’s same-store sales fell more than 10 percent. It had warned that the calendar shift eliminated 7 holiday shopping days from November and pushed them into December, which would drag down November’s results. Saks and Pacific Sunwear also reported lower November same-store sales.

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