Little Upside Seen in February Retail Sales

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Retailers are announcing February U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday morning, and research firm Retail Metrics had forecast a year-over-year increase of just 0.1% for the month. That’s not much, but does improve on January’s same-store sales decline of 13%.

We’ve been tracking four chains in these monthly reports, but Stein Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: SMRT) will no longer report monthly sales figures. That leaves just three to report this morning, with Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) expected to release sales figures after markets close Thursday. Retail Metrics expects same-store sales to drop 2% year over year, with the company’s Banana Republic sales falling 7.7%.

Here are results from the stores we track:

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported that same-store sales for February fell 8.9% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to drop 5.9%. Net sales for all stores fell 7.7% and totaled $81.8 million for the month. The company plans to announce quarterly results on March 11 before markets open.

Buckle’s shares were inactive in Thursday morning’s premarket, having closed at $32.18 on Wednesday, up about 0.8% for the day, in a 52-week range of $26.05 to $52.00.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) reported January same-store sales, including gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, were up 2% in the United States, down 2% in Canada and down 8% internationally. Globally, same-store sales were flat compared with February 2015. Excluding gasoline and currency exchange effects U.S. sales rose 4%, Canadian sales rose 10% and international sales were flat. On the same basis, worldwide same-stores sales in the quarter rose 4%. Net sales for the month totaled $8.28 billion, up 1% year over year. Retail Metrics had projected same-store sales to be flat (up 4.1% in the United States excluding gasoline sales). Costco reported quarterly income late Wednesday night and missed both profit and revenue estimates.

Costco shares traded down about 2.2% at $149.50 in Thursday’s premarket, having closed at $152.79 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $117.03 to $169.73.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for February rose 5% compared with last year’s sales. Retail Metrics had estimated an increase of 5%. L Brands operates Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores. The largest gain came from the company’s Bath & Body Works, up 9% year over year in the month. Net sales rose 5% to $806.1 million in February.

L Brands’ shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket session. Shares closed at $87.17 on Wednesday, and the stock’s 52-week range is $75.11 to $101.11.