Mild winter weather, holiday-related promotions, and new merchandise attracted droves of shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores in February, resulting in strong gains for leading retailers, according to March 2012 analysis from RetailSails. Same store sales for the 19 retail chains tracked by RetailSails rose 6.7% year-over-year in February, following a 5% gain last year, marking the 30th straight monthly gain after 12 consecutive months of declines, and the best gain since September.
Total net sales for the 19 chains that reported grew 8.3% year-over-year to $20.8 billion. 15 of the 19 chains reported same-store gains for the month, compared to 16 last year. Total trailing 12-month sales rose 7.6% to $287.7 billion and comparable store sales increased 5.9% after a 4.9% increase in the prior-year period.
The RetailSails figures exceed February 2012 expectations from Thomson Reuters, which forecast a 3.4% gain in same-store sales from levels a year earlier. According to Thomson Reuters insight, a reading of 3% in the Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index signals that US consumers are feeling affluent enough to spend.
Consumer Confidence On the Rise
Indeed, consumers’ confidence in the economy appears to be improving. According to February data from Gallup, Americans’ confidence is near the highest it has been at various points over the past 4 years. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index stood at -22 during the week ending February 26, roughly on par with the -23 from the prior week, though down slightly from the -20 of the first full week of the month. Even so, this compares favorably with January, and also with February 2011, and is near the highest weekly average (-18) experienced since Gallup first started tracking economic confidence daily in 2008.
The index is an average of two components: ratings of current economic conditions and Americans’ perceptions of whether the U.S. economy is getting better or getting worse. The increase in economic confidence so far this year is attributable to an increase about the US economy’s future direction, which reached -12 during the week ending February 12, before dipping to -16 two weeks later. Meanwhile, the current conditions rating improved to -28.
This trend is supported by the latest BIGinsight data, which found that in February 2012, 33.1% of consumers indicated they were either very confident/or confident in the chances for a strong economy, up from 30.4% who felt that way in January, and the highest level since January 2008 (33.5%).
About the Data: Gallup’s results are based on telephone interviews conducted weekly as part of Gallup Daily tracking with a random sample of more than 3,000 adults aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.