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.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Comps

    "Comps" is a buzzword that refers to a retail firm's comparable ...
  2. Same-Store Sales

    Same-store sales measures the sales of a company's existing stores ...
  3. Retail Industry ETF

    A retail industry ETF is an exchange-traded fund that invests ...
  4. ICSC-UBS Store Sales

    A weekly economic report that measures comparable store sales ...
  5. Brick And Mortar

    Brick and mortar refers to a street-side enterprise where employees ...
  6. Replacement Chain Method

    The replacement chain method is a decision model for evaluating ...
Related Articles
  1. 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.
  2. Investing

    Macy's Is Closing 68 Stores (M)

    The retail behemoth is closing "unproductive" locations and streamlining its operations by laying off workers.
  3. Investing

    99 Cents Only Stores Profits Edge Up

    Dollar retailer 99 Cents Only increased revenue and profits despite product-cost increases.
  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

    Target Plans to Open and Remodel More Stores

    While many other retailers keep shrinking their brick-and-mortar footprints, Target (NYSE: TGT) keeps going in the other direction. The chain has been adding new stores and remodeling some existing ...
  6. Investing

    Dollar General Buys a Big Rival's Failed Stores

    One retailer's failed experiment has become another chain's opportunity. Dollar General (NYSE: DG) has purchased 41 former Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) Express locations across 11 states. The company ...
  7. Investing

    What's Causing the Death of the Retail Store?

    Brick and mortar retail stores continue to close, but is e-commerce really to blame?
  8. 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 ...
  9. Investing

    Why Macy's, Nordstrom, Target May Rise on Holiday Sales

    With the holiday season just around the corner, a number of traditional retailers could get a boost.
  10. Trading

    Are Dollar Stores Really A Bargain?

    It's hard to resist an item that's $1. We tell you when you should fight the urge.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Value chain analysis: What are the advantages and disadvantages?

    Learn about the five activities that make up a generic value chain, and understand the advantages and disadvantages of value ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is a "daisy chain"?

    A daisy chain is a term used to describe a group of investors who engage in activities that inflate or deflate the price ... Read Answer >>
  3. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Find out how the retail industry is affected by seasonal patterns in consumer tastes, especially for companies that tailor ... Read Answer >>
  4. How rapidly can expanding sales reduce a firm's earnings?

    In order to operate and make money, a company must spend money. Revenue - the dollar amount of sales - can be seen on a company's ... Read Answer >>
  5. Why did Howard Schultz decide to keep Starbucks a chain rather than allow franchising?

    Read about why billionaire Howard Schultz chose to keep Starbucks a chain rather than franchising and how he led the chain ... Read Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between revenue and sales?

    Revenue is the income a company generates before any expenses are taken out. Sales are the proceeds from the selling of goods ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center