More on Retail Sales

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While early reports on December same-store sales were mixed, the final tally showed a solid gain, with 53% of retailers reporting same-store sales beating estimates and just 47% falling short. The data comes from research firm Retail Metrics.

Excluding drug stores, same-store sales for the month rose 4.8%, 1.4% higher than the 3.4% expected gain. The biggest gainer was Gap Inc.’s (NYSE: GPS) Old Navy chain, which posted a gain of 13%. Wet Seal Inc. (NASDAQ: WTSLA) posted the largest decline, a drop of 9.7%.

Including drug stores, same-store sales rose just 1.7%, slightly below the Retail Metrics estimate of a 1.8% gain.

One bit of bad news in Retail Metrics’ final numbers: the number of stores lowering quarterly earnings per share (EPS) guidance outnumbered those raising guidance by 7 to 2. Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Bebe Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: BEBE), The Cato Corp. (NYSE: CATO), Fred’s Inc. (NASDAQ: FRED), Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), and Wet Seal all lowered guidance while only The TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) and Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) raised guidance. This likely means that sales improvements came at the expense of margins.

Paul Ausick

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