Chain Store Sales Helped by Cooler Weather

Cooler weather, particularly in the Midwest, drove U.S. retail sales (search) higher in the latest week, and some retailers got an early start on holiday promotions, a report said Tuesday.

Sales rose 1.2 percent in the week ended Nov. 8, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi (search) and UBS (search) said in a joint report, compared with a 0.5 percent rise in the preceding week. Compared with the previous year, sales for the week were up 5.8 percent.

In addition to a wintry climate, some stores cited early holiday shopping as a reason for increased customer traffic, but other stores are still not fully stocked for the holiday season.

In a supplement to its report, BTM/UBS forecasted a strong holiday season for retailers, especially for clothiers. "This year, apparel imports are growing at a slower pace than last year, which should benefit retailers generally and check heavy discounting at the first sign of sluggishness," the report said.

As department stores emphasize the diversity of their products, the advertising industry is likely to be revived from its current slump, the report added.

Last year, a weak job market and concerns over the country's march to war with Iraq left a dour signature on the holiday retail sales. Based on easy comparisons with the previous year, BTM/UBS is predicting November comparable store sales will grow at least 4 percent on a year-over-year basis.

The BTM/UBS Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot is compiled from a group of major discount, department and chain stores across the country that report their weekly results. The index measures sales growth with the year 1977 equaling 100.