Chain store sales nationally posted a 4 percent gain for the fiscal month of September on a year-over-year basis according to a tally compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers. 

Excluding gasoline sales, the preliminary September tally would actually be up 5.1 percent.

“The biggest story line here is that the September performance was led by the drug store segment, posting its strongest monthly showing since April 2007,” said Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC. “This seemingly heralds the full recovery of this segment after an extended period of weakness due to several mitigating factors,” Niemira added.

Drugstore sales rose by 6.0 percent in September, just 0.7 percent off the April 2007 rate.

Apparel was the weakest performing segment, posting a 0.1 percent gain.

For October, ICSC research anticipates that comparable store sales will increase between 3 and 4 percent. However, the backdrop of the federal government shutdown does have the potential to curb spending during the month, biasing the October expectations to a slightly weaker performance even on the heels of a strong gain in September.