Retail Sales for August Show Modest Increases

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Retailers are announcing August same-store sales figures today. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 3.2% year-over-year, compared with a 4.2% gain in July and a 4.3% gain in June. Retail sales gained 3.3% in August of 2012.

Back-to-school shopping drives August sales, and sales got off to a slow start. Traffic in stores picked up as the month progressed by purchasing was restrained. Looking at Wednesday’s reported auto sales shows where U.S. consumers were spending during the month of August.

Retail Metrics also noted that retailers’ guidance for the third quarter and the full fiscal year has turned overwhelmingly negative. Of 48 retailers, 35 lowered guidance after posting second-quarter results and only four increased guidance.

Among the many retailers that no longer report monthly sales are Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M), Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF) and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (NYSE: AEO).

Here is a rundown so far this morning:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported that same-store sales, including gasoline, for August rose 4% compared with the same month in 2012. That is higher than the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 3.8%, including gasoline sales.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LTD) said same-store sales for August rose 2% compared with last year. Retail Metrics estimated a rise of 2.1%.

The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for August rose 1% compared with the same period a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a rise of 0.6%. A year ago, Buckle reported a same-store sales rose 4.5%.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 3.8% rise in same-store sales for August, above the 3% estimate from Retail Metrics. In August of last year, sales rose 5.6%.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) is expected to post a same-store sales increase of 2.8% for August. The company is scheduled to report second-quarter results after-markets close on Thursday. Consensus estimates call for earnings per share of $0.17 on revenues of $157.78 million. In August 2012, the teen apparel store’s sales rose 3.7%.

Costco shares are trading at $113.90 in the premarket Thursday morning, with a 52-week range of $93.51 to $120.20.

L Brands’ shares are inactive so far this morning, having closed at $58.14 on Wednesday, in a 52-week range of $42.49 to $61.36.

Stein Mart’s shares closed at $12.21 last night in a 52-week range of $6.56 to $15.21 and are inactive this morning.

Zumiez’s shares are inactive this morning, having closed last night at $26.20 in a 52-week range of $17.93 to $33.50.

The Buckle’s shares closed at $52.33 last night in a 52-week range of $41.50 to $57.68 and are inactive this morning.