September Retail Sales Rise 5% as Promotions Cut Revenues

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Retailers are announcing September U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 5.1% year-over-year. Back-to-school spending tailed off early in the month as there was nothing much to spark consumer interest except promotional pricing. Warm weather hurt sales of fall clothes as well.

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 look on the quarter’s performance at the country’s retail stores. Here is a rundown on stores that have reported sales thus far:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported quarterly earnings on Wednesday, noting that U.S. same-store sales for September rose 4.0%. That is below the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 5.6%, including gasoline sales. Excluding the negative impact from gasoline sales, sales rose 6.0%. Costco shares were down about 0.1% Thursday morning, at $128.61. The stock’s 52-week range is $109.50 to $128.95.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for September rose 6.0% compared with last year. Retail Metrics had estimated a rise of 3.0%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales rose 9% to $853.5 million in September. Shares were up 0.6% at $68.24 in a 52-week range of $50.78 to $68.61.

The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for September rose 2.2% compared with the same period a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a rise of 2.0%. Net sales increased 4.1% and totaled $103.1 million for the month. Buckle shares were trading down about 2.3% at $45.12 in a 52-week range of $41.45 to $52.31.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 4.9% increase in same-store sales for September, well above the 2.7% growth estimate from Retail Metrics. Total sales for September came in at $119.4 million, up 6.5% from a year ago. Stein Mart’s shares were up about 0.2% Thursday morning at $11.91 in a 52-week range of $11.46 to $16.17.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) posted a same-store sales increase of 6.6% for September. Retail Metrics estimated a rise of 2.7%. Total sales for the month were $66.3 million, up 12.5% over September of 2013. Shares were trading up nearly 3% at $29.52 in a 52-week range of $20.68 to $33.64.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) reported same-store sales for September as flat after markets closed on Wednesday. The big news from the company, however, was the retirement of the CEO coming next February. Gap traded down more than 12%, at $36.80 in a 52-week range of $36.13 to $46.85.

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