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NEW YORK — Retail chain stores in the United States posted a modest gain of 1.7 percent for the fiscal month of February on a year-over-year basis, according to a tally of comparable-store sales compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). In January, sales grew by 4.5%. Excluding drug store sales, industry sales increased by 4.2% in February—about one percentage point slower than in January.
Although the performance was consistent with its 2012 trend, sales were negatively impacted by adverse weather conditions, higher payroll taxes and the uncertainty surrounding the federal government's sequestration.
"The retailer tone in their own sales reporting seemed softer than the aggregate performance in February," said Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC. "Clearly, weather and budget politics played a negative factor in February, but the improving housing market is helping to offset some of those drags," added Niemira.
For March, ICSC research anticipates that the monthly sales pace will increase between 3.0 percent and 4.0 percent, due in part to the earlier Easter holiday on March 31st versus April 8th in 2012, but held back by some federal government drag.