Here's Cary's report on interesting trends during this crucial back-to-school shopping month.
"Overall same-store sales from the ActionWatch Retail Panel were down again in August, although down by slightly less than in July. Revenue in August, a peak selling month for the core channel, was 3.8% lower for these retailers compared to the prior year.
"Overall apparel category sales were down 1%, although women's/girls' apparel sales were actually up by almost 3%. This is notable since most months in 2008 have seen negative revenue growth in female apparel. Dresses continued to work well in this retail channel with August ‘08 sales reaching nearly 15% higher than the prior year.
"Sandals had a tough month in August, down 11% compared to last year. However, shoe sales improved again, rising 3.2% compared to last year (despite a continued drop in female shoe sales).
"Accessory sales were also down with particularly disappointing sales in the bags category, which was down over 13% in this high volume back-to-school month. However, sunglasses brought in slightly more revenue than last year with a 1.4% increase.
"Hardgoods made up over 22% of sales in August but got hammered again with a decrease of over 11% compared to last year. Surf hardgoods suffered the most, although skate hardgoods were also down 5%."