APT Index: Overall February Retail Sales Comps Decline -1.1%, But “Polar Thaw” Leads to Positive Comps During Month’s Second Half

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Temperature, snowfall drove February sales declines overall, but retail sales picked up as temperatures increased

Polar Thaw

Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) today announced that U.S. retail sales for the month of February fell [-1.1%] nationwide, an improvement from January comps which were down [-1.6%]. But despite the overall February decline, the APT Index, which compares this year’s sales to the same period last year, indicated a “polar thaw” as increasing temperatures were followed by an increase in sales comps.

In the first half of February (2/1 to 2/14), the average temperature was 35°F and sales comps were [-3.4%]. However, in the second half of the month (2/15 to 2/28), average temperature climbed to 43°F and sales comps grew to [+1.4%].

The APT Index includes a subset of APT’s $2 trillion in sales data, or $1 of every $5 of U.S. retail sales. The Index aggregates data from sales registers at over 50,000 locations across the U.S. to show how year-over-year performance changes for same store sales in the physical channel for retail. Unlike other sources, which use consumer survey data, the APT Index is based on reported sales data, allowing APT to make statistically significant observations about retail sales. As a result, the APT Index provides the most definitive and accurate analysis of retail sales available.

February Retail Sales – by APT Index numbers:

The big picture

  •     Overall nationwide sales: [-1.1%]
  •     Number of transactions: [-2.0%]

At a more granular level, the APT Index shows that areas with certain characteristics were impacted more in February. Among these characteristics, change in temperature and snowfall had the largest impact.

Impact of year-over-year temperature change on retail sales

  •     In areas where temperature decreased, sales fell [-2.4%]
  •     In areas where temperature increased, sales increased [+1.3%]

Impact of the snow days on retail sales

  •     In areas that had no snow, sales increased [+1.5%]
  •     In areas that had 1 to 4 snow days, sales fell [-1.0%]
  •     In areas that had 5 to 9 snow days, sales fell [-2.2%]
  •     In areas that had 10 or more snow days, sales fell [-2.8%]

Metro areas most affected
The Top 25 metro areas that performed the best in February were: Riverside, CA with a [+4.1%] increase in sales comps; Los Angeles, CA with a [+3.3%] increase; and Denver, CO with a [+2.7%] increase. The areas that performed the worst were: New York, NY [-7.1%], Washington, D.C. [-5.2%], and Philadelphia, PA [-5.1%].

[All figures are a year-over-year, same-store comparison between February 1st through February 28th, 2014 and the same dates in 2013.]

Anthony Bruce, CEO of APT, said, “The APT Index allows us to understand how the retail economy is performing. We saw some improvement in sales comps between January and February. As temperatures began to increase in the second half of February, sales comps also went up, indicating a ‘polar thaw.’”

Bruce added, “Using the APT Index, we can provide the industry’s most definitive retail comps data for major weather events, at the macro level as well as for each local market. The APT Index shows how small changes in factors like the weather can dramatically impact store comps. The APT Index is one of the most robust and accurate ways for retailers to answer questions such as: What should any given store’s performance be, based on how nearby stores are doing? How can we determine if some stores are really over- or under-performing, or if their performance is due to what’s happening in their local area? How do we perform compared to surrounding stores when we run a national ad campaign? We are seeing a lot of excitement among retailers in using the APT Index to answer these and other mission critical questions.”

For more information, visit: http://www.predictivetechnologies.com.

About APT
APT is the world’s largest purely cloud-based predictive analytics software company. APT’s Test & Learn software is revolutionizing the way Global 2000 companies harness their Big Data to accurately measure the profit impact of pricing, marketing, merchandising, operations, and capital initiatives, tailoring investments in these areas to maximize ROI. APT’s client portfolio includes Walmart, Staples, Lowe’s, SunTrust, Hilton Hotels, and others. APT has offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, London, Taipei, and Tokyo. Visit http://www.predictivetechnologies.com to learn more.

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Cathy Baker
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