Retail sales for the coming holiday season are expected to be about 3% higher than 2010 sales. Not bad, considering that US GDP growth predictions are now below 2%; not good, either, considering that 2010 sales grew by nearly 6% over 2009. September same-store sales are out today from many retailers and while not a predictor of holiday sales, the September numbers often indicate consumers’ mood going into the holiday.
We have September same-store sales from Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT, Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN), J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP), Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS), Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE: SSI), Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ), and The Buckle, Inc. (NYSE: BKE).
Target reported September same-store sales up 5.3%, and total sales up 6.5% from September 2010. Analysts were expecting growth of 3.9%. For the year-to-date, same-store sales at Target are up 3.4% year-over-year, compared with a 2.1% year-to-date rise in 2010 over 2009.
Macy’s posted a jump of 4.9% in September same-store sales, and an overall increase of 5.3%. Analysts were expecting a same-store sales increase of 4.4%. The company’s CEO is buoyant, ” We are feeling quite confident that we will continue to gain market share as we head toward the holiday selling season.” Year-to-date, same-store sales are up 5.6% and total sales are up 6.1%. Macy’s also said it expects both third- and fourth-quarter sales to be at the high end of the 4%-4.5% guidance the company has already issued.
Nordstrom reported a jump of 10.7% in September same-store sales and a total sales increase of 16.3%. Analysts had been expecting a same-store increase of 5.2%
J.C. Penney was among those that missed estimates. The company reported that same-store sales in September were down -0.6% and total sales were off an even worse -3.6%. Analysts had been expecting a same-store increase of 0.6% for the month. The store noted that sales of children’s apparel were among its better performing divisions, no surprise given the back-to-school shopping season.
Dillard’s posted a 4% rise in same-store sales for September, and a total sales increase of 3%. Analysts had been expecting a same-store boost of 3.3%. On a regional basis, the store said that sales were at the average company trend for the midwest, slightly below trend in the east, and below trend for the west. That doesn’t sound like upbeat forecast for the holiday season.
Limited stores posted an 11% jump in September same-store sales, more than double the expected rise of 4.6%. Total sales for the month rose 11% as well, and year-to-date sales are up nearly 12%.
Gap was another store that recorded a drop in same-store sales. The decrease came in a -4%, worse than expectations of -3.8%. International sales were hit the hardest, down -13% year-over-year.
Stage Stores also showed a decline in September same-store sales. The drop totaled -0.7% versus an expected gain of 0.3%.
Zumiez blasted through expectations of a 3.2% increase in same-store sales, posting a gain of 10.1%. The company raised its guidance for third-quarter sales and now expects EPS to rise from $0.37-$0.39 to $0.40-$0.41.
The Buckle posted a September same-store sales gain of 10.3%, far better than expectations of 3.8%. Total sales rose 13% year-over-year, and year-to-date same-store sales are up 8.7%.
The only retailer expected to see a double-digit rise in same-store sales for the month was Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST), and it didn’t disappoint, posting a 12% gain. But Nordstrom, Limited, Zumiez, and Buckle were all big positive surprises with their double-digit sales growth. J.C. Penney, Gap, and Stage Stores continue to struggle.
If there’s a signal here for the coming holiday season, it’s that maybe the US economy isn’t as bad as all the other signals indicate. Or it could be that consumers spent money on needed school clothes and supplies, but are not going to be such free spenders later this year.