October Retail Sales Lukewarm, Unless Store's Name Is Costco

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Retailers are announcing October U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 3.8% year-over-year. In October of 2013, retail same-store sales rose 4%.

Retail Metrics attributes the rather lackluster showing to unseasonably warm weather and “uninspiring fashion.” Consumer confidence rose in October, gasoline prices fell to multiyear lows and unemployment dropped below 6%. Even combined these factors couldn’t overcome earnings warnings from a number of retailers and promotional pricing to attract customers.

Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG) and Rite Aid Inc. (NYSE: RAD) previously reported same-store sales growth of 5.6% and 5.5%, respectively. Pharmacy sales gains at both stores rose above 7% year-over-year in October, while front-end sales rose 2% at both chains.

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 report on quarterly performance at the country’s retail stores. Here is a rundown on stores that have reported sales for October:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported early Thursday morning that U.S. same-store sales for October rose 6.0%. That is higher than the Retail Metrics estimate for a gain of 3.8%, including gasoline sales. Excluding the negative impact from gasoline sales, sales rose 7%. Net sales for October totaled $8.73 billion, up 7% over October 2013’s total of $8.15 billion.

Costco shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket session, having closed at $136.50 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $109.50 to $137.81.

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L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for October rose 3.0% compared with last year. Retail Metrics had estimated a rise of 2.5%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales rose 3% to $700 million in October.

Shares closed up about 1% on Wednesday at $75.00 and were inactive Thursday morning. The stock’s 52-week range is $50.78 to $75.70.

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported that same-store sales for October fell 4.4% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a drop of 2.8%. Net sales declined 1.3% and totaled $85.4 million for the month.

Buckle shares closed Wednesday up 2.4%, at $50.24 in a 52-week range of $41.45 to $52.31. Shares were inactive Thursday morning.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 1.4% increase in same-store sales for October, well below the 2.2% growth estimate from Retail Metrics. Total sales for October came in at $97.7 million, up 2.9% from a year ago.

Stein Mart’s shares closed up about 0.5% on Wednesday to $13.33 and were inactive Thursday morning. The stock’s 52-week range is $11.25 to $16.17.

Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) posted a same-store sales increase of 3.1% for October. Retail Metrics had estimated a rise of 2.6%. Total sales for the month totaled $51.7 million, up 11.7% over October of 2013.

Zumiez’s shares were inactive Thursday morning, after closing up about 1% Wednesday at $33.63 in a 52-week range of $20.68 to $34.64.

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Walgreen’s stock closed up about 0.6% on Wednesday, at $65.66 in a 52-week range of $54.86 to $76.39. The stock was inactive Thursday morning.

Rite Aid shares closed down 1.3% on Wednesday, at $5.19 in a 52-week range of $4.42 to $8.62. The stock was inactive Thursday morning.

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