The 11 retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters posted a 1.9% rise in comp-store sales against a forecasted 2.2% increase. Last year, the March figure was 7.1%.
Many analysts are quick to point to the weather, as last month was the chilliest March, with the most snowfall in 17 years, according to Weather Trends International. There is a concern that spring inventory is building as many stores missed sales expectations as consumers found it difficult to shop for shorts and tees with snow on the ground.
However, customers have been known to shop for warm-weather goods in March, for decades brands have been shipping spring product in February - which is considered the official launch of the season in fashion. Few retailers will use weather as an excuse for poor sales. Other factors which may have contributed to lower growth versus last year:
- Easter weekend, resulting in store closures, falling earlier this spring in March
- US job market and consumer confidence still below benchmark levels
The juxtaposition of weather and in-store product does call into question the interpretation of the "buy now, wear now" industry mantra.