September Retail Sales Show Modest Gain

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Retailers are announcing September U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday morning, and research firm Retail Metrics has noted a modest year-over-year gain of 0.7% for the month.

Retail Metrics had projected that overall sales would be down 0.2% year over year for the month. In August, retail same-store sales slipped 0.6%.

The number of retailers reporting same-store sales has declined significantly over the past several years, but the reported numbers do provide a kind of interim report on quarterly performance at the country’s retail stores.

A late Labor Day weekend and some last-minute back-to-school shopping helped to offset the negative effects of unseasonably warm weather and small wage gains in the month.

Here are results from the stores we track:

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported that same-store sales for September fell 6.7% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to drop 2.57%. Net sales for all stores fell 5.6% and totaled $97.4 million for the month.

Buckle’s shares traded down 4.8% Thursday morning to $36.45, after closing Wednesday at $38.28, in a 52-week range of $36.01 to $56.13.

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Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported September same-store sales, including gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, were up 3% in the United States and down 6% internationally. Overall, same-store sales were flat compared with September 2014. Excluding gasoline and currency exchanges, U.S. sales and international sales both rose 8%. On the same basis, worldwide same-stores sales in the quarter rose 8%. Net sales for the month totaled $10.75 billion, up 2% year over year. Retail Metrics had projected a same-store sales decline of 1% (up 5.2% excluding gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects).

Costco shares traded up 1.11% Thursday to $149.68, after closing on Wednesday at $147.96. The stock’s 52-week range is $117.03 to $156.85.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for September rose 9% compared with last year’s sales. Retail Metrics had estimated an increase of 4.1%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza, and Henri Bendel stores. Net sales also rose 8% to $919.9 million in September.

L Brands’ shares traded up about 2.2% Thursday morning, after closing at $94.70 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.47 to $97.49, a new high posted shortly after the opening bell Wednesday.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 2.8% decrease in same-store sales for September, well above the 0.7% decline estimated by Retail Metrics. Total sales for the month came in at $117.3 million, down 1.8% from a year ago. The company noted that September sales were negatively affected by unseasonably warm weather, one less week of post-Labor Day fall fashion selling and a shift of promotional events.

Stein Mart’s shares traded at a new 52-week low of $8.75 early Thursday, after closing previously at $8.85. The stock’s 52-week high is $16.65.

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