Sales at U.S. Retailers Increased 3.6% Last Week as Shoppers Dodged Storm

Sales at U.S. retailers rose 3.6 percent last week from a year earlier, as some shoppers returned to stores to take advantage of post-Christmas discounts, dodging a snowstorm that assailed the East Coast.

Sales for the week ended Jan. 1 rose 0.4 percent from the previous week, according to a chain-store sales index released today by New York-based International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. That compared with a 1 percent gain a week earlier.

The holidays can generate up to 40 percent of annual revenue for some retailers. While a Dec. 26 blizzard covered parts of the U.S. Northeast in more than a foot of snow, retailers including Urban Outfitters Inc., Gap Inc. and Columbus, Ohio-based Express Inc. lured shoppers with unique clothing later in the week, said Richard Jaffe, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. in New York.

The stores that did well this season “are those that inspire the consumer to buy something they don’t need,” said Jaffe, who recommends buying shares of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters, San Francisco’s Gap and Express.

December sales probably rose 3.5 percent or more, the ICSC said. The industry group plans to release combined results for November and December on Jan. 6. Last week, the group forecast that holiday sales will rise at least 4 percent, the most in four years.

Northeast Battered

“The beginning of the fiscal week’s sales were battered by a major Nor’easter along the East Coast,” Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and research director, said in an e- mailed statement today. “The warming trend by week’s end helped lift store traffic as well as helped to recover some lost post- Christmas sales earlier in the week.”

Retail stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 1.2 percent to 507.36, the biggest drop since Nov. 12. Yesterday, the index rallied to a three-year high after analysts said that companies whose prospects are tied to growth will gain.

Citigroup Inc. recommended shares of Target Corp., Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Family Dollar Stores Inc., while Janney Montgomery Scott LLC advised buying Staples Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie Patton in Chicago at lpatton5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Ajello in New York at rajello@bloomberg.net

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