Retail Sales Figures Off to Slow Start (COST, TGT, M, GPS, SSI, LTD, SMRT, WTSLA, BKE, ZUMZ)

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Retailers are reporting April same-store sales today and it looks like the predictions for modest growth will come true. Research firm Retail Metrics Inc. forecast that same-store sales would grow by just 1.5%, citing factors like an early Easter, a late Mother’s Day, and warm weather as contributing to the slower growth. Retailers also have to contend with comparisons to April 2011, when sales jumped 8.7%.

So far this morning we have sales figures from Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST), Target Inc. (NYSE: TGT), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE: SSI), Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD), Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT), Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ: WTSLA), Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE), and Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ).

Costco reported same-store sales growth of 4%, compared with a Thomson/Reuters estimate of 5.1% growth. Total sales rose 7%, and same-store sales excluding gasoline and currency effects rose 5% in April.

Target reported same-store sales growth of 1.1%, far short of an estimate of 2.8%.

Macy’s same-store sales growth came in at 1.2%, against an estimate of 1.9% growth.

Gap stores reported same-store sales fell -2% in April, compared with an estimated drop of -0.8%.

Stage Stores posted a same-store sales drop of -1%, much better than a forecast drop of -4.8%.

Limited Brands posted same-store sales growth of 6%, nicely above the estimate of 4%. The company also raised the lower end of its EPS guidance for the first quarter from $0.35 to $0.38. The top end of the range remained at $0.40.

Stein Mart posted a smaller-than-expected same-store sales drop of -1.6%, compared with the consensus estimate of -2.1%. For the first quarter same-store sales were down -0.4%.

Wet Seal reported that same-store sales dropped by -9.6% in April, compared with an estimated decline of -9%. For the first quarter, same-store sales are down -7.7% and total sales are down -5.2%.

Buckle posted same-store sales growth of 1% in April, compared with an estimate of 0.9%. Total sales grew 9.9% during the first quarter.

Zumiez reported same-store sales growth of 10.1% in April, compared with an estimate of 6.8% growth. Same-store sales for the first quarter rose 12.9% compared with the first quarter of 2011. Total sales rose 19.8% in April compared to April 2011.

Paul Ausick

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