WHAT IS 'Chain Store Sales'

Chain store sales are monthly revenue figures from large department-store and drugstore chains in the U.S. The data comes either via press release or directly from the companies on the first Thursday of each month.

Analysts tend to study these figures, as well as any associated statements from company executives, to gain insights into consumer spending and retailing trends. Monthly chain store sales for each retailer appear as a percentage change from the same month a year earlier. Some companies also break out chain store sales figures by division and provide additional details or statements.

Often, the chain store sales correspond with same-store figures that track the year-ago percentage change for all stores owned by the same retailer operating the past 12 months or more, in an effort to eliminate the volatile performance of stores in their first year of existence.

BREAKING DOWN 'Chain Store Sales'

Chain store sales, along with many other consumer spending indicators, help some investors project movements in the stock and bond markets. Specific data gleaned regarding the health of individual companies help some investors and analysts project future earnings, especially if a company’s profit margins are often stable.

Moreover, strong overall chain store sales from multiple large retailers points to healthy consumer spending and robust consumer confidence, which sometimes leads to more spending in the near future. Conversely, too much growth among multiple chain stores could signal inflation, which is a negative for the bond market.

Chain Store Sales in the Aggregate

Because consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of gross domestic product, several organizations track chain-store sales in the aggregate to try to get a feel for the direction of the overall sales of the industry.

For example, the U.S. Census Bureau aggregates chain store sales data in two monthly that track the overall performance of retailing: The Monthly Retail Trade Report and the Advance Monthly Retail Trade Report. The chain store sales appear as part of a line item called GAFO, which represents general merchandise, apparel, furniture and office supplies, stationery and gifts, all of which usually is sold in department stores. These figures represent the aggregate growth of major national department stores, including Walmart, JCPenney and others.

Notably, however, chain store sales do not include figures from online-only giants, most notably Amazon.com. The Census Bureau, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, publishes a separate Quarterly E-Commerce Report with details online sales, both for online-only locations and brick-and-mortar retailers that also do business online.

Other third-parties also attempt to aggregate some of the chain store and same-store-sales data. For example, Thomson Reuters, the parent of media company Reuters, utilizes such data to compile a retail sales index, based on a weighted composite of chain stores.

  1. Same-Store Sales

    Same-store sales measures the sales of a company's existing stores ...
  2. Comps

    A buzzword that refers to a retail firm's comparable same-store ...
  3. Base Year

    A base year is the first of a series of years in an economic ...
  4. Supply Chain Attack

    A supply chain attack is a cyberattack that attempts to inflict ...
  5. Store Of Value

    Any form of commodity, asset, or money that has value and can ...
  6. Supply Chain Management (SCM)

    Supply chain management is the management of the flow of goods ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    19 Retailers Are Shedding Stores So Far in 2017

    As consumers increasingly spend money on restaurants and travel, mall-based retailers feel the pinch.
  2. Investing

    5 Retailers Set to Close More Stores in 2016 (FINL, GPS)

    Discover retail stores that have already announced plans to close stores in 2016. Some expect a new economic downturn, which may lead more stores to close.
  3. Insights

    Wal-Mart Closes 269 Stores: Why Wal-Mart Express Failed

    Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores from its portfolio to further streamline its operations.
  4. Investing

    Dollar General Buying Dollar Express Chain

    At a time when many retailers have been closing stores, Dollar General (NYSE: DG) has been adding them at a furious pace. The discount chain plans to open 1,000 new locations in 2017, after ...
  5. Investing

    Consumer Spending As A Market Indicator

    Learn how people buy retail as where they shop can be one of the best indicators for how to predict the coming months of retail economic activity.
  6. Investing

    The World's Top 10 Retailers (WMT, COST)

    Read about some of the top retail companies in the world, and learn a little about the products they sell and the markets and customers they serve.
  7. Personal Finance

    Why You Should Consider A Career In Supply Chain Management

    Supply chain managers ensure that increasingly global companies can coordinate distant sources of materials, labor, and manufacturing to successfully bring products to market.
  8. Investing

    Dollar General Finishes Its Fiscal Year Strong

    Deep-discount chains have generally been resistant, if not immune, to the so-called retail apocalypse that has been hurting so many brick-and-mortar chains. Dollar General (NYSE: DG) is a prime ...
  9. Investing

    Five Below Expanding Into California

    Five Below (NASDAQ: FIVE) has been one of the rare success stories in the current retail market. The low-price chain has steadily grown, adding 85 stores in 2016 after opening 71 net new locations ...
  1. What is the difference between a value chain and a supply chain?

    Learn the difference between a value chain and a supply chain, and why a company would want to maximize the value of both. Read Answer >>
  2. How does a strong value chain management team help a company?

    Understand what makes up a company's value chain and the point of a value chain. Learn how a strong value chain management ... Read Answer >>
  3. Who are Rite Aid's (RAD) main competitors?

    Learn about Rite Aid Corporation, the third-largest drugstore chain in the United States, and its major competitors in the ... Read Answer >>
  4. Hard and soft goods in the retail sector

    Understand the difference between hardlines and softlines offered by various retailers. Find out about the characteristics ... Read Answer >>
  5. How can the federal reserve increase aggregate demand?

    Learn about the Federal Reserve's role in increasing aggregate demand. Fiscal policy tends to be more effective in increasing ... Read Answer >>
  6. How does revolving credit differ from a general line of credit?

    Examine the consumer goods sector, which accounts for nearly one-third of consumer spending, and learn which goods account ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Gross Profit

    Gross profit is the profit a company makes after deducting the costs of making and selling its products, or the costs of ...
  2. Diversification

    Diversification is the strategy of investing in a variety of securities in order to lower the risk involved with putting ...
  3. Intrinsic Value

    Intrinsic value is the perceived or calculated value of a company, including tangible and intangible factors, and may differ ...
  4. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet item that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
  5. Volatility

    Volatility measures how much the price of a security, derivative, or index fluctuates.
  6. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
Trading Center