July Same-Store Retail Sales May Turn Out Better Than Expected

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Retailers are announcing July U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday morning. Research firm Retail Metrics projected that overall sales would be up just 0.2% year over year for the month. In July of 2014, retail same-store sales rose 4.5%.

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 what Retail Metrics has to say about the small projected increase in sales growth:

Hot weather across much of the country coupled with stagnant wage growth, a lack of buzz around “must have” B2S items, consumers’ discretionary dollars potentially being diverted into what were strong July auto sales, declining consumer confidence in July, and shoppers increased willingness to pay down debt and save likely led to another soft month in retail sales ex-autos.

Here are results from the stores we track:

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 0.2% increase in same-store sales for July, about half the 3.5% growth estimate from Retail Metrics. Total sales for the month came in at $76.6 million, up 1.8% from a year ago. The company noted that same-store sales for the quarter ending in July rose 4.5%. For the second fiscal-quarter, Stein Mart posted a same-store sales gain of 3%.

Stein Mart’s shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket, after closing Wednesday at $10.48, up about 3.9% for the day. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $9.63 to $16.65.

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Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported July same-store sales, including gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, were up 3% in the United States and down 10% internationally. Overall, same-store sales were flat in the month. Excluding gasoline and currency issues, U.S. sales rose 6% and international sales rose 7%. On the same basis, worldwide same-stores sales in the quarter rose 7%. Net sales for the month totaled $8.64 billion, up 1% year over year. Retail Metrics had projected a same-store sales decline of 0.2% (up 5.7% excluding gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects).

Costco shares were down fractionally in Thursday’s premarket session, at $146.85 in a 52-week range of $117.47 to $156.85.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for July rose 3% compared with last year’s sales. Retail Metrics had estimated an increase of 1.9%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales also rose 3% to $759.5 million in July. The company also announced that it raised its fiscal year earnings per share guidance from a prior range of $0.60 to $0.65 to a new range of $0.66 to $0.68.

L Brands shares were also inactive Thursday morning, after closing at $84.49 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $60.38 to $95.78.

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Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for July fell 8.1% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to rise 0.7%. Net sales for all stores fell 6.7% and totaled $73.7 million for the month.

Shares were inactive and closed Wednesday up about 1.7% at $45.33 in a 52-week range of $40.54 to $56.13.