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    U.S. Chain Store Sales Down 5 Percent in July

    Sales tax holidays and leaner inventories hinder sales.

    NEW YORK -- Leaner inventories and a shift in state sales-tax holidays hampered U.S. chain store sales in July, which were off 5 percent on a same-store basis compared with the same period last year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

    Despite the dip in sales, however, July chain store sales were in line with the ICSC's expectations for the industry and were consistent with the recent trends seen in May and June, according to ICSC Chief Economist and Director of Research Michael P. Niemira. "July sales were hampered by leaner inventories as retailers looked to clear out merchandise. Additionally, many states pushed back-to-school sales-tax holidays into August as opposed to July of last year. This sales-tax-holiday calendar shift likely pared about 0.5 percentage points from July's sales growth," Niemira said in a media release.

    Drug stores faired fairly well in July with an overall gain of 1.3 percent. Walgreens showed an increase of 2 percent with $5.25 billion, a 7.3 percent increase from this time last year. However, this increase mainly correlated to an 8.4-percent increase in prescription sales, as front-end sales dipped by 3.8 percent.

    Walgreens opened 45 stores, relocated one outlet, and closed one location in July 2009.

    Comparatively, Rite Aid reported losses of 0.6 percent, taking a hit from its decreased front-end sales that plummeted 4.7 percent, as well.

    Total sales were recorded at $1.93 billion, down 2.4 percent.

    For the second quarter ended Aug. 1, same-store sales decreased 15.5 percent, and owned sales decreased 14.6 percent to $555.9 million, compared with $650.9 million for the second quarter ended Aug. 2, 2008. Looking ahead, the ICSC expects same-store sales for August will be off 4 percent year-over-year, with the later back-to-school shopping season and an improving underlying economy giving a small boost.

    Related News:

    COMPETITIVE WATCH: Walgreens to Expand New Customer-Centric Concept

    -- Nielsen Business Media

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