Stein Mart’s March Same-Store Sales Surge

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Retailers are announcing March U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday. Research firm Retail Metrics projected an overall gain of 1.1% year-over-year. In March of 2014, retail same-store sales rose 5%. If the researchers are right, that would be the smallest increase since November 2012.

Along with its forecast, Retail Metrics noted that a softer U.S. economy with slowing job growth and a decline in hours worked could be the cause of the softness in retail sales growth. Consumers are saving more, and harsh winter weather in the North and East also had a negative impact on consumer spending.

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 March:

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported an 11.2% increase in same-store sales for March, a huge jump over the 2.3% growth estimate from Retail Metrics. Total sales for the month came in at $155.8 million, up 14.2% from a year ago. The company noted that March sales were “partly impacted” by the earlier Easter holiday this year.

Stein Mart’s shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket after closing Wednesday at $12.25. The stock’s 52-week range is $11.25 to $16.65.

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Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported March same-store sales, including gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, were flat in the United States and down 9% internationally. Overall, same-store sales fell 2% in the month. Excluding gasoline and currency exchanges U.S. sales rose 4% and international sales rose 4%. On the same basis, sales in the quarter rose 7%. Net sales for the quarter totaled $67.58 billion, up 5% year-over-year. March net sales totaled $10.4 billion, essentially flat with last March. Retail Metrics had projected a same-store sales decrease of 0.1% (or 4.8% excluding gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects).

Costco shares traded down about 0.8% in Thursday’s premarket session to $150.83. The stock’s 52-week range is $110.38 to $156.85.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for March rose 9% compared with last year. Retail Metrics had estimated a rise of 5.6%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales rose 7% to $1.79 billion in March. Analysts at Janney had projected a rise of 6% for L Brands’ March sales.

L Brands’ shares traded up about 0.6% Thursday morning at $95.00 after closing at $94.48 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $53.03 to $95.78.

Rite Aid Inc. (NYSE: RAD) reported a March same-store sales hike of 4.3%, compared with the same month a year ago. Front-end sales rose 2.5% and pharmacy sales rose 5.1%, including a negative impact of 167 basis points due to the introduction of new generic drugs. Total sales rose 4.1% to $2.03 billion. Retail Metrics was looking for an overall jump of 4.1%, with pharmacy sales up 5.1% and front-end sales up 2.2%. Rite Aid reported these numbers on April 2 and reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Rite Aid shares traded down about 0.8% in the premarket, at $8.80 in a 52-week range of $4.42 to $9.07.

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Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for March fell 0.5% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to be flat. Net sales for all stores rose 1.7% and totaled $108.5 million for the month. Earlier this week analysts at Janney estimated a drop of 3% in March same-store sales.

Buckle’s shares are also inactive this morning and closed Wednesday up 0.7% at $49.67 in a 52-week range of $41.96 to $56.13.