March Same-Store Sales Growth Muted

Paul Ausick

Retailers announced March U.S. same-store sales figures Thursday morning. Research firm Retail Metrics had forecast a year-over-year increase of just 0.1% for the month. That’s not much, but it is slightly better than February’s flat performance.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) is expected to release sales figures after markets close Thursday. Retail Metrics expects same-store sales to drop 5% year over year, with the company’s Banana Republic sales falling 8.9%.

Here are results from the stores we track:

Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) reported same-store sales for March fell 11.8% compared with the same month a year ago. The Retail Metrics estimate called for sales to drop 6.1%. Net sales for all stores fell 11.0% and totaled $96.6 million for the month.

Buckle’s shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket, having closed at $32.62 on Wednesday, down about 0.8% for the day, in a 52-week range of $26.05 to $49.83.

March same-store sales at Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST), including gasoline sales and foreign exchange effects, reportedly were up 1.0% in the United States, up 3.0% in Canada and down 1.0% internationally. Globally, same-store sales were up 1.0% compared with March 2015. Excluding gasoline and currency exchange effects, U.S. sales rose 3.0%, Canadian sales rose 9.0% and international sales rose 5.0%. On the same basis, worldwide same-stores sales in the quarter rose 4.0%. Net sales for the month totaled $10.7 billion, up 3.0% year over year. Retail Metrics had projected a same-store sales rise 0.7% (up 4.5% excluding gasoline sales).

Costco shares were inactive in Thursday’s premarket, after closing at $156.77 on Wednesday. The stock’s 52-week range is $117.03 to $169.73.

L Brands Inc. (NYSE: LB) said same-store sales for March rose 3.0%, compared with last year’s sales. Retail Metrics had estimated an increase of 1.9%. 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 5.0% year over year in the month. Net sales rose 5.0% to $1.03 billion in March. L Brands also announced a restructuring into three business units and the elimination of about 200 jobs.

L Brands’ shares also were inactive in Thursday’s premarket session. Shares closed at $86.10 on Wednesday, and the stock’s 52-week range is $75.11 to $101.11.