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US and French retail sales disappointing

US and French retail sales disappointing
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US retail sales during the holiday season were disappointing rising just 3.8 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The National Retail Federation said for the whole year the increase was 3.5 percent.

Deep discounts attracted shoppers, but also hit retailers’ profits. Several major US retailers last week slashed profit forecasts and blamed all the promotions they offered.

Fewer people actually visited stores, prefering to buy online. Data firm ShopperTrak last week said shopper traffic fell 14.6 percent during the season from 2012.

Bleak start for French winter sales

It seems French shoppers also shunned the start of the winter clearance sales this year.

Retailers report that revenue was down in the first few days of the sales – which by law in France cannot start before January 8.

They blamed a stalled economy, unseasonably mild weather and competition from year-round promotions.

“It’s not good. Consumption remained sluggish and the weather did not help,” said Jean-Marc Genis, head of the FEH clothing retail federation, which represents chains including Etam, Zara and H&M.

Five-day revenue was down 5-10 percent on the year, he said.

Bernard Morvan, head of the Federation Nationale de l’Habillement, which represents nearly 45,000 independent clothing stores, said sales in the women’s ready-to-wear sector fell more than 10 percent year-on-year in the first week.

At French department stores – which in big cities are more resilient to the bleak climate due to their attractiveness to foreign tourists and their focus on luxury goods – sales were flat, said Claude Boulle, head of the UCV union that represents stores such as Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps.

At the Printemps Haussmann department store, where 40 percent of sales come from wealthy tourists from China and Russia, sales were “ok, nothing more,” Printemps group CEO Paolo de Cesare said.