Retail Spending Meets Low Expectations

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Retail sales growth in June were expected to be weak compared with sales a year ago, and the predictions came true. Sales growth last June was a tough comparison because sales in 2011 were much stronger than sales in 2010. The Thomson Reuters retail sales index rose 6.7% last year; according to research firm Retail Metrics last year’s comparable store sales rose 7.2%. For this June, Thomson Reuters expected same-store sales growth of 0.5%, while Retail Metrics was looking for growth of 1%.

Retailers at the high and low ends of the market did pretty well, while teen specialty retailers were weak. Here are some numbers:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) posted same-store sales growth of 3% compared with a growth estimate of 3.7%.

Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) was expected to post same-store sales growth of 2.4%, but managed only a 2.1% increase.

Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) was expected to post a decline of -3.2%, but finished with a decline of -4.2%.

Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) posted a gain of 8.1% compared with expectations for a same-store sales gain of 4.7%.

Saks Inc. (NYSE: SKS) was expected to show a gain of 4.7%, but posted a gain of 6%.

Stage Stores Inc. (NYSE: SSI) posted a same-store sales gain of 3.3% versus an estimated gain of 2.7%.

Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) missed an expected gain of 1.9%, posting a gain of just 1.2%. Macy’s also reiterated full fiscal year EPS guidance of $3.25-$3.30, short of the consensus estimate of $3.37.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) broke even compared with an expected gain of 0.1%.

The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) handily beat an expectation of same-store sales growth of 4.2%, posting a gain of 7%.

Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD) reported growth of 7% compared with expected growth of 2.4%.

Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) also grew sales by 7% against an estimate of 4.8%.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) missed its estimated sales growth of 2%, posting a decline of -0.5% instead.

Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ: WTSLA) was expected to post a decline of -7.7%, but missed even that low bar with a decline of -9%.

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) missed an expected break-even month, instead showing a drop of -2.5% in same-store sales.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) came close to an expected gain of 8.4%, posting same-store sales growth of 8.2%.

For the most part — and given the tough comparisons to last year’s growth numbers — retail sales were not as weak as might have been expected from the sagging consumer confidence numbers we’ve been seeing. People are in the stores and buying even though June is a typically so-so month for sales. Back-to-school is the next “occasion” on the retail calendar, and we should begin seeing some effects from that later this month and into August.

Paul Ausick

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