March Same-Store Sales Forecast to Rise Just 0.1%

Several chain stores that still report monthly same-stores sales results will be announcing March numbers after markets close Wednesday and before they open Thursday. Analysts at Retail Metrics are projecting a 0.1% year-over-year increase for the month, not much, but better than the analysts’ earlier estimate for a decline of the same amount.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) is expected to report late Wednesday. Retail Metrics expects same-store sales to rise 0.7%, including gasoline sales, and 4.5% excluding those sales and the effects of currency exchange rates.

Teen clothing retailer Zumiez Inc. (NASDAQ: ZUMZ) is forecast to report a drop of 6.4% for March. Last year March sales rose 5.5%, so the comparison is a tough one.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) is expected to post a decline of 5.0% in March same-store sales. The company posted a gain of 2.0% in March of last year. Gap’s Old Navy stores are forecast to see a drop of 6.8%, compared with a year-ago comp of plus 14.0%. Banana Republic stores are expected to report a decline of 8.9%, compared with a decline of 3.0% a year ago.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB), which operates Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, among other brands, is forecast to post a gain of 1.9%, compared with a 9.0% jump in March 2015. The company guided March same-store sales in a range of 0% to 2%.

Retail Metrics commented:

It is well known that wage increases have been particularly lackluster of the course of this economic recovery, credit has been tighter, and consumers have been unwilling (and unable) to leverage their personal balance sheets to drive consumer spending and thus retail sales significantly higher. … Consumers are shifting an increasing portion of their spending from instore visits to mobile purchases translating into fewer store visits, less impulse purchases, and sluggish sales growth.

The analysts note that car sales are strong thanks to low gasoline prices and that home improvement stores are posting solid same-store sales growth.

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