14228 Thu, 04/10/2008 - 10:56am
NEW YORK–Major retailers in March saw their sales in stores open for at least a year plummet to the steepest level in nearly eight years, with department stores as a group showing the worst performance.
For the 17 stores tracked by HFN, comparable-store sales fell 4.3 percent, the lowest since at least December 2000, when HFN began retaining monthly records.
The department store group, which includes Dillard’s, Gottschalk’s, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and The Bon Ton Stores, collectively dropped 11.7 percent. Among them, Kohl’s and Gottschalk’s fared the worst.
Among mass merchants and clubs as a group, the picture was generally brighter. Still, Target, Stein Mart and Ross Stores also experienced declines.
Wal-Mart and the clubs showed slight increases, and TJX Cos.’ sales were flat.
In general, retailers blamed the poor showing on an earlier Easter, which resulted in a loss of a shopping day, and unseasonably cold weather. The housing downswing and credit crunch, as well as soaring gasoline prices, were also mentioned as contributing to the weak returns.