Nine Olympic-sized Hurdles For February Retail SSS

From Bill Kirk of Weather Trends International:

There is a growing avalanche of bad news for overall February 2010 retail industry same-store-sales. Results are announced March 4th – here are 10 reasons why they will likely come in much lower than the +2% to +3% expectations on Wall Street:

1. Snowmageddon! February national snowfall will be off the chart and likely to crush all records for the snowiest February in 115 years. It’s tough to convince consumers to make Spring purchases when snow is all we see. THIS IS A BIG NEGATIVE!

2. The most highly correlated external factor to overall retail industry same-store-sales (SSS) is SNOW with an 84% correlation toward LESS being more favorable for higher SSS. Over the past 30 years, a snowier February results in lower than expected SSS for 82% of cases. THIS IS A BIG NEGATIVE!

3. A cold/wet/snowy February average SSS are +1.3% over the past 30 year’s vs a warm/dry/little snow February which brings much higher SSS of +6.7%. THIS IS A BIG NEGATIVE!

4. There were 21 days this February with significantly more snow than last year and the most snow before Valentine’s and President’s Day in decades. Nearly 70% of the country was covered in snow (49 of 50 states) prior to Valentine’s Day – the most on record. THIS IS A BIG NEGATIVE!

5. The Consumer Confidence Index is the 2nd most correlated external factor to retail industry SSS at 73%. While February consumer confidence came in at 46, much lower than the 55 predicted, it is down from the 56 in January. 90 is considered a good economy. THIS IS A BIG NEGATIVE!

6. The next most correlated factor is temperature (46%) with warmer being better. February 2010 is on pace to be the coldest since the 1970s (30+ years) with a 5.2F drop from last year. Every 1F colder can cost retailers up to 0.7% in lost sales. THIS IS A BIG NEGATIVE!

7. A stronger than expected January (we had that in 2010 with the +3% gain) is followed by a weaker than expected February in 63% of cases over the past 30 years. THIS IS A NEGATIVE!

8. Unemployment is at +9.7% this February vs +8.1% a year ago. THIS IS A NEGATIVE!

9. Gasoline prices are up +39% vs a year ago at $2.66 a gallon vs $1.91 gallon. THIS IS A NEGATIVE.

10. THE ONE BIG POSITIVE? Very easy comparisons to last year February SSS results which were the worst in 30 years at -4.3% according to data from ICSC. If it wasn’t for this easy comp, February 2010 would be a complete disaster; even with the easy comp results are likely to be much lower than expected!

Stay tuned for the March 4 report to see how WTI’s forecast comes out.

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One Response to Nine Olympic-sized Hurdles For February Retail SSS

  1. Sid Raisch says:

    This is GOOD NEWS for garden centers because it increases the intensity of SPRING FEVER. Many say it is pent up demand, but I believe it is intensified spring fever. Other spring retail such as swim suits, sunscreen, sunburn meds, summer clothing and vacations may suffer but if we seize the opportunity when it comes our way we can still have recordbreaking spring business. The main concern we can have with a late breaking spring is that garden centers will overstock early spending spend too much on early inventory and labor and will not start or re-start marketing and will be caught (financially speaking) in the narrower gap between spring's arrival and summer.

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