Chain Store Sales Fell in Latest Week

U.S. chain store retail sales fell in the latest week, as below normal temperatures hurt demand for spring apparel, a retail report said on Tuesday.

Sales fell 1.0 percent in the week ended March 26, compared with a 0.2 percent increase the previous week, the International Council of Shopping Centers (search) and UBS said in a joint report.

Compared with the same week a year ago, sales increased to a 4.5 percent after a 3.4 percent rise the preceding week. The higher year-on-year comparison resulted from extra sales over the Easter holiday (search), which fell much earlier in 2005 than in 2004.

"This past week, the overall pace of sales was inflated by holiday shopping for Easter food, candy and seasonal apparel," said Michael Niemira, ICSC's chief economist and director of research.

"Weather, however, continues to cause some softness in spring apparel demand and helped contribute to the week-over-week sales decline. Despite this week's sales decline, we expect that March sales will increase by 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent," Niemira added.

The ICSC-UBS Weekly Chain Store Sales Snapshot (search) is compiled from a group of major discount, department and chain stores across the country that report their weekly results.