All that snow in January didn’t keep shoppers at home, apparently, as retailers posted a 4.2% increase in same-store sales for the month. That topped estimates that had started at 3.1% growth before falling to 2.7% as analysts didn’t believe that shoppers would brave the cold and snow.
In the big-box stores, January same-store sales varied. Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) sales rose 6%, excluding gasoline and currency fluctuations, while analysts were expecting a 5% jump. Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) reported sales rose 1.7%, compared with expectations of 1.9%. Target noted that sales were weaker than expected in some parts of the south and northeast US.
BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. (NYSE: BJ) had a particularly tough month because so many of its stores are in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, which were especially hard hit by bad weather. BJ’s sales rose just 0.3%, excluding gasoline, compared with expectations of 0.8% growth. The company also announced that it would explore strategic alternatives, including a sale of itself. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) does not report monthly sales.
Discount retailer Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG) reported flat same-store sales, at the bottom end of its own prediction that sales would be flat or up by 2%.
The results at clothing retailers varied wildly. Limited Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD) reported same-store sales rose 24% in January. Analysts had been expecting a rise of 6.7%. For the full year, Limited reported net sales rose more than $1 billion, from $8.63 billion to $9.61 billion.
Same-store sales at Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) rose 1%, compared with analysts’ consensus estimates of a decline of -3.1%. The company also said that it expects to report 2010 full-year EPS of $1.85-$1.86, up from previous guidance of $1.77-$1.82. Expectations had been for EPS of $1.81.
Teen clothier American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO) reported same-store sales fell -6% in January, better than the -8.3% drop expected by analysts. American Eagle will no longer report monthly sales data.
Department store results were mixed. Dillard’s Inc. (NYSE: DDS) reported same-store sales rose by 6%, compared with estimates of a 2% increase. Macy’s Inc. (NYSE:M) said sales rose 2.6%, better than expectations of 2.1%.
J.C. Penney Co., Inc. (NYSE: JCP) reported that sales fell by -1.2%, while analysts had expected a rise of 1.8%. But Penney’s raised its EPS estimate for the fourth quarter from $0.90-$1.00, to $1.06-$1.09, well above analysts’ EPS estimates of $0.97.
In general, the expected weather effects did not have the expected impact on sales. Markdowns were common, but there was less merchandise to clear out this year because retailers kept a closer eye on inventories going into the holiday season.
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