March Same-Store Sales Deliver Little Good News

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Retailers reporting March same-store sales Thursday are expected to show a rise of 2.2% compared with sales in March 2016.

Industry research firm Retail Metrics noted that same-store sales growth last March amounted to a gain of 0.2%, so the year-over-year comparison should be a piece of cake. Same-store sales for the first quarter of the year are projected to grow by just 0.3%, the worst performance in four years.

Wednesday’s announcement of Payless ShoeSource’s Chapter 11 filing and closing of 400 stores underlined the difficulties facing brick-and-mortar retailers.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) no longer reports monthly same-store sales data, but Retail Metrics projects a same-store sales decline of 0.5% across all its store brands, with Banana Republic stores dropping 3.5% and Old Navy stores posted a gain of 1.9%.

Here are results from the stores we track:

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for March fell 10.1% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to drop 10.8%. Net sales for all stores fell 10.1% and totaled $96.8 million for the month. For the fiscal year to date (two months), same-store sales and net sales are both down 16.1%.

Buckle’s shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket session. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.00 to $31.72, and the low was posted Wednesday. The 12-month price target is $18.75.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported March same-store sales growth of 6% and net sales of $11.64 billion, up 9% year over year. Excluding gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, the company posted same-store sales growth of 5%. Retail Metrics had forecast overall same-store sales growth of 3.9% and growth of 3.1%, excluding gasoline and foreign exchange.

Costco shares traded up nearly 2% in Thursday’s premarket session to $170.25, having closed at $167.00 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $138.57 to $178.71, and the consensus 12-month price target is $181.91.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for March decreased 10% compared with last year’s sales. Retail Metrics had estimated that sales would drop 9.1%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales for all stores fell 7% to $951.4 million in March.

L Brands’ shares traded up about 1.3% in Thursday’s premarket at $43.67. The stock’s 52-week range is $43.04 to $87.16, and the low was posted on Wednesday. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $52.72.