July Retail Sales Edge Higher as Summer Goods Make Way for Fall Gear

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Retailers are announcing July U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 4.5% year-over-year, below the 5.5% sales gain posted in June. July is a transitional month for retail sales as summer goods are cleared out to make way for fall and back-to-school items.

The number of retailers reporting same-store sales has declined significantly over the past few years, but the reported numbers do provide a kind of interim report on the quarter’s performance at the country’s retail stores. Upscale luggage maker Tumi Holdings Inc. (NYSE: TUMI) is scheduled to report quarterly results after markets close. Here is a rundown on stores that reported sales Thursday morning:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported that same-store sales for July rose 5%, a point below the June increase. That is slightly below the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 5.2%, including gasoline sales. Net sales for the month totaled $8.55 billion.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for July rose 6% compared with last year. Retail Metrics had estimated a rise of 1.8%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales rose 8% to $735.3 million in July.

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The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for July that rose 0.5%, compared with the same period a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a drop of 0.7%. Net sales increased 2.3% and totaled $79 million for the month.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 0.8% increase in same-store sales for July, well below the 4.2% positive growth estimate from Retail Metrics. In July of last year, sales rose 3.4%. Total sales for July came in at $75.3 million, up 0.9% from a year ago.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) posted a same-store sales increase of 3.5% for July. Retail Metrics estimated a rise of 2.8%. Total sales for the month were $62.8 million, up 11.9% over July of 2013.

The Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) is expected to report same-store sales growth of 0.6% after the markets close. Last year Gap stores posted a same-store sales gain of 7% in July.

Costco shares were down about 1.3% Thursday morning to $118.12. The stock’s 52-week range is $109.50 to $126.12.

L Brands’ shares were up 3.8%, at $61.42 in a 52-week range of $50.78 to $67.12.

Stein Mart’s shares were also up, about 0.5% to $13.38, in a 52-week range of $11.53 to $16.17.

Zumiez’s shares traded up about 0.3%, at $30.10 in a 52-week range of $20.68 to $30.90.

The Buckle’s shares traded up about 1%, at $46.69 in a 52-week range of $41.45 to $53.67.

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