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RETAIL SALES IN CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SEASON AHEAD OF PROJECTIONS; LEADING RETAILING ANALYST ED JOHNSON BOOSTING PACE-SETTING FORECAST

 NEW YORK, Nov. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- With retail sales this Christmas shopping season already 9.5 percent over the same time as last year; Lynch, Jones & Ryan retailing analyst Ed Johnson today revised his well-known "Christmas in July" forecast upward: The season will show retailers a "9 to 10 percent" increase in sales volume over last year, said Mr. Johnson.
 He is director of the Johnson Redbook Service, a division of the institutional brokerage firm Lynch, Jones & Ryan, Inc.
 Mr. Johnson's first forecast for the season, issued on July 27, was for a "6.5 to 8.5 percent increase" over last year. Strong consumer activity led to the hike in his projection, he said.
 Mr. Johnson was ahead of the pack last year, as well, when he went out on a limb in July to predict a retailing turnaround for the '92 season. He was one of the first to foresee the bullish trend.
 He gave the upward revision in a speech before the Fragrance Foundation at The Plaza Hotel here. The organization is the trade group for the perfume industry.
 Mr. Johnson's forecast is based on more than 30 years of experience in tracking consumer spending trends. Current sales levels, he said, are following a pattern seen in 10 of the last 14 years.
 The trend is furthered by the accelerating growth of personal income, consumers continue to want new possessions and are out shopping for them.
 "Our July prediction turned out to be ultra-conservative," Mr. Johnson said, "bullish factors and good seasonal weather have resulted in early November year-to-year sales increases over last December of 9.6 percent. We have revised our December sales estimate upward to a conservative 9 percent to 10 percent increase over a year ago. This prediction is barring new problems in Washington, summer in December (slowing the sale of cold weather clothing) and blizzards during Christmas week.
 "However, all is not peaches and cream for the retailers. The overwhelming bargain hunting mind-set of the consumer will keep pressure on gross margins."
 The retail and apparel stocks that the Lynch, Jones & Ryan Johnson Redbook believes have a good chance of doubling over the next 12 months are: Caldor (NYSE: CLD), Gotham Apparel (NASDAQ: TBAY), Supreme International (NASDAQ: SUPI) and Future Shop Discount Superstores (NYSE: FSS).
 One of the better-known analysts covering retailing and related industries, Mr. Johnson has been publishing the Johnson Redbook on the retailing industry for more than 30 years. The report's weekly retail sales report is a de facto leading indicator of economic activity nationwide. It has also been cited by The Wall Street Journal as the "hottest" economic forecasting tool for bond traders because "consumer spending accounts for about one-third of the nation's economic activity."
 Lynch, Jones & Ryan, Inc., founded in 1966, is a securities brokerage firm well known for its agency trading capabilities. The firm transacts equity and fixed-income trades for more than 1,400 institutional money management clients around the world and is a pioneer in providing independent research services to institutional investors, currently offering more than 400 research and measurement products to its clients. In addition, the firm's Plan Sponsor Services(SM) division is the largest provider of commission recapture programs, with over 525 corporate, public and Taft-Hartley clients.
 -0- 11/23/93
 /CONTACT: David Kogut of The Nestor Group, 212-888-6115/


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Date:Nov 23, 1993
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