November Retail Sales Mixed on Warm Weather, Auto Sales

Retailers are announcing November U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday morning, and research firm Retail Metrics had forecast a year-over-year decline of 1.1% for the month. In October retail same-store sales slipped 0.4%.

Three of four stores included here all closed out the month of November on the 28, the Saturday following Black Friday, so Sunday sales are not included nor are Cyber Monday sales. Costco closed its November monthly sales on Sunday the 29.

A continuing boom in sales of new cars is keeping shoppers out of the mall and on car dealer lots, according to Retail Metrics. The firm noted data from credit reporting firm Experian:

[T]he third quarter found a surge in auto lending with the average auto loan hitting a new record of $28,900 while the average length of a car loan remained flat at 67 months or just over 5.5 years. The average monthly payment is now at $482/month. What this suggests to us is that middle income consumers purchasing new vehicles taking on new car payments are spending but do not have the discretionary leeway to also hit the mall.

Here are results from the stores we track:

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for November fell 7.9%, compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to drop 7.5%. Net sales for all stores fell 6.8% and totaled $96.9 million for the month.

Buckle’s shares were inactive in Thursday morning’s premarket, having closed at $31.90 on Wednesday in a 52-week range of $29.28 to $56.13.

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Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported November same-store sales, including gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, were up 3% in the United States, down 10% in Canada and down 3% internationally. Globally, same-store sales were flat compared with November 2014. Excluding gasoline and currency exchanges U.S. sales rose 6%, Canadian sales rose 8% and international sales rose 7%. On the same basis, worldwide same-stores sales in the quarter rose 6%. Net sales for the month totaled $9.68 billion, up 3% year over year. Retail Metrics had projected a same-store sales decline of 1.4% (up 5.2% in the United States, excluding gasoline sales).

Costco shares traded up about 2% in Thursday’s premarket to $164.44, just pennies below its 52-week high, after closing on Wednesday at $161.09. The stock’s 52-week range is $117.03 to $164.47.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for November rose 7% compared with last year’s sales. Retail Metrics had estimated an increase of 3%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza, and Henri Bendel stores. The largest gain came from the company’s Victoria’s Secret Direct Sales, up 12% year over year in the month. Net sales rose 8% to $1.169 billion in November.

L Brands shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket. The stock closed at $96.10 on Wednesday, and its 52-week range is $75.11 to $101.11.

Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) reported a 4.8% decrease in same-store sales for November, well below the 2.5% increase estimated by Retail Metrics. Total sales for the month came in at $126.4 million, down 1.2% from a year ago. The company noted that the entire shortfall occurred during the first half of the month. The last half of the month improved to flat with last year.

Stein Mart’s shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket, after closing at $7.49 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $7.00 to $16.65.

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