March More Like a Lamb for Retailers

Belying March weather across much of the country, the National Retail Federation’s Retail Executive Opinion Survey for February showed a rise of 5.3 points in the Retail Sector Performance Index, to 55.6. The RSPI, which measures evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, average transaction per customer, employment, inventories and the six-month sales outlook, had declined for the previous four months in a row. The RSPI scale runs from 0.0–100, placing 50.0 at normal.

Customer sales and traffic in particular increased in February, causing the current demand index to rise to 59.2, a jump of 13.8%, while the pricing index rose 15 points to 40.0. Inventory and employment, combined under the category of operations, stayed the same at 52.5. NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin attributed the improved figures to retailers’ successful February clearance strategies. “Retailers appear pleased with their pricing strategies for spring,” says Mullin, “and [they] are encouraged that consumers are heading to the stores in larger numbers.”

More upbeat executive confidence is also reflected in the increase of the demand outlook, which measures the six-month sales outlook) to 55.0, although that figure a year ago in February 2004 was at 68.7.