February Retail Sales Affected by Port Slowdown, Weather

Retailers are announcing February U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 1.9% year-over-year. In February of 2014, retail same-store sales rose 2.1%. In its forecast, Retail Metrics noted the work slowdown at West Coast ports, bad weather in parts of the country and foreign exchange effects to be a drag on February sales.

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 February:

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported second-quarter results early Thursday morning, as well as February U.S. same-store sales. February sales rose 2% compared with last February, and excluding the negative impact from gasoline sales, sales rose 7% in the United States, flat with the January increase. Net sales for February totaled $8.18 billion, up 4% over February 2014’s total of $7.9 billion. Retail Metrics had projected a same-store sales increase of 0.5% (7.5%, excluding gasoline sales).

Costco shares traded up 2.9% shortly after Thursday’s opening bell to $151.46. The stock’s 52-week range is $110.36 to $156.85.

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L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for February rose 6% compared with last year. Retail Metrics had estimated a rise of 4.8%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales rose 7% to $806.1 million in February.

L Brands shares were fractionally Thursday morning to $92.06. The stock’s 52-week range is $53.03 to $94.84.

Rite Aid Inc. (NYSE: RAD) reported a February same-store sales hike of 3.3%, compared with the same month a year ago. Front-end sales rose 1.6% and pharmacy sales rose 4.1%, including a negative impact of 144 basis points due to the introduction of new generic drugs. Total sales rose 1.7% to $2.56 billion. Retail Metrics was looking for an overall jump of 4.6%, with pharmacy sales up 5.6% and front-end sales up 2.1%.

Rite Aid shares traded down about 2.1% early Thursday to $7.88, in a 52-week range of $4.42 to $8.62.

The Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported that same-store sales for February fell 2.7% from with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for a rise of 0.1%. Net sales for all stores slipped 0.9% and totaled $88.6 million for the month.

Buckle’s shares were down 1.9%, at $50.27 in a 52-week range of $41.96 to $56.13.

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Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 2.6% increase in same-store sales for February, a little short of the 3% growth estimate from Retail Metrics. Total sales for the month came in at $88.6 million, up 4.9% from a year ago. The company noted that same-store sales in Arizona, California and Florida were nearly three-times the overall increase. The company attributed the difference to bad weather across most of the rest of the United States.

Shares were up fractionally to $12.36. The stock’s 52-week range is $11.25 to $16.65.

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