Retail Sales for January as Cool as the Weather

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Retailers are announcing January same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 2.2% year-over-year. Retail sales gained 2.3% in January of 2013, excluding drug store sales. Including drug store sales for last year and projections for this year, January 2013 posted a same-store sales increase of 5.1%, compared with an estimated 2.5% increase for last month.

Retail Metrics also noted that retailers’ guidance for the fourth quarter and the full fiscal year has turned overwhelmingly negative. We noted Wednesday that the research firm suggested that holiday shopping fatigue, stagnant wage growth and heavy competition played supporting roles in the January sales derby, but bad weather in the eastern half of the United States is going to take most of the blame for the poor sales growth.

Here is a rundown so far this morning:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported that same-store sales, including gasoline, for January rose 4% compared with January 2013. That is higher than the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 3.4%, including gasoline sales. Excluding negative impacts from lower gasoline sales, Costco posted same-store sales growth of 6% for the month.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for January rose 9% compared with last year. Retail Metrics estimated a rise of 0.5%. L Brands, which operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores, also lifted its fourth-quarter earnings forecast to $1.60. The consensus estimate had been $1.60, slightly above the company’s previous estimate.

The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for January fell 6.6%, compared with the same period a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a drop of 0.3%. For the month of January same-store sales fell 27.9%, although last year’s total comprised sales from five weeks compared with 2014’s four-week period. For the quarter, same-store sales were down 2.8%, compared with the same period a year ago.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 0.7% decline in same-store sales for January, sharply below the 1.3% growth estimate from Retail Metrics. In January of last year, sales rose 4.6%. For the quarter, Stein Mart’s same-store sales rose 3.1% and for the year sales rose 3.7%.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) has posted a same-store sales decrease of 7.6% for January. Retail Metrics estimated a drop of 3.3%.

Costco shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket, having closed at $110.51 the previous night. The stock’s 52-week range is $98.95 to $126.12.

L Brands shares were trading up 3.3% in the premarket, at $53.50, in a 52-week range of $42.49 to $67.12.

Stein Mart closed at $12.29, in a 52-week range of $7.44 to $16.17, and the stock was inactive Thursday morning.

Zumiez shares were down 0.9% to $21.31, in a 52-week range of $20.50 to $33.50.

The Buckle’s shares closed at $42.76, in a 52-week range of $41.45 to $57.68, and were inactive in the premarket.