Retail

September Retail Sales Expected to Be Sluggish

Paul Ausick

Several chain stores will be announcing September same-store sales on after markets close Wednesday, and the projections from research firm Retail Metrics are not upbeat. The researchers’ projection calls for a 0.2% decline in those sales.

Among the factors helping to boost September sales, Retail Metrics lists a late Labor Day holiday, low gasoline prices, weak back-to-school sales in August that could have been picked up in September, and huge September car sales.

Factors that would have weighed on September sales include unseasonably warm weather that delayed purchases of clothing for cooler weather, layoffs at several large retail chains and flat projections for holiday season temporary hiring.

Warehouse club-store chain PriceMart Inc. (NASDAQ: PSMT) reported earlier Wednesday (unexpectedly) that same-store sales rose 3.2% in September, above the 2.8% estimate from Retail Metrics. Total sales rose 13.2% year over year for the month to $192.6 million.

Other retailers reporting Wednesday include Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) and teen retailer Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ). Retail Metrics expects Costco to post a same-store sales gain of 5.2%, excluding gasoline sales. A year ago Costco reported same-store sales growth of 6% in September.

Zumiez is expected to post a same-store sales decline of 7.4% for September, according to Retail Metrics. Last year the store posted a gain of 6.6%.

Rite Aid Inc. (NYSE: RAD) announced September results on October 1. The drug store chain reported a same-store sales increase of 1.9%, comprising a pharmacy sales increase of 2.7% and a front-end sales increase of 0.1%. Last year Rite Aid posted an overall sales gain of 5.1% in September.

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