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Industry same-store sales and traffic trends are out for February.

Malcolm Knapp reported February same-store sales and traffic results of -3.2% and -3.9%, respectively.  For same-store sales, this constitutes a two-year average number of -3.6%, which is level with the two-year average decline of 3.6% in January.  The traffic number represents a two-year average of -4.8%, a sequential decline of 30 bps from January’s two-year average traffic number.  In the Knapp-Track report, it is explained that the first week of February was negatively impacted by the Super Bowl Football Championship game calendar shift (from 2/1/09 to 2/7/10).  Additionally, the unusually heavy snowfall, particularly in Washington, D.C., impacted trends.  California had rain “nearly every weekend”. 

February is the third consecutive month where comparable-store sales exceeded guest counts.  From May through November of 2009, driven by the aggressive discounting environment, guest counts had exceeded comparable store sales. 

The bifurcation between consumer confidence and consumer spending metrics continues; the Consumer Confidence Index is up 20.7 points from February 2009.  Importantly, as Knapp notes, while the Expectations component of the Consumer Confidence Index is up 36.5 index points year-over-year, the Current Outlook component of the Consumer Confidence Index decreased 2.9 index points from last year.  We continue to see inflationary pressure (particularly in the cost of gasoline) and unemployment suppressing any resurgence in sales trends. 

Howard Penney

Managing Director