Early reports show a key revenue figure is up more than expected in SeptemberBy AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010
September sales results stronger than expected
NEW YORK — Retailers are reporting surprisingly solid sales gains for September, boosted by back-to-school shopping, much of it was pushed into September by parents who had put off trips to the mall.
The results Thursday give hope for a positive holiday shopping season, although Americans are still dealing with an uncertain economy and high unemployment.
An array of stores including Macy’s Inc., Saks Inc., Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works parent Limited Brands Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch reported better-than-expected results.
Two notable exceptions were Gap Inc. and Target Corp., which missed estimates.
“I think retailers are pleasantly pleased by the strength of the back-to-school season,” said Ken Perkins, president of research firm RetailMetrics. “It’s turning out to be a solid month, which should bode well for the holiday shopping season.”
An improving stock market also might have spurred some shoppers to spend, he noted. The S&P 500 rose 9 percent during the month.
“It’s clear that back to school came later this year once again, with parents toting their children back to the malls and outlets in the first weeks of September after browsing in August,” said Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi.
Several retailers, including the Gap, Wet Seal and Target, reported that revenue dropped off in the second half of the month, particularly in the last week.
Sozzi said that might indicate “the consumer has prepared themselves to pause prior to the holidays, preferring to bolster savings in the lead-up to the holidays.”
Costco’s revenue at stores open at least a year rose 5 percent for the month of September. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a 4.5 percent increase. The company also reported its fourth-quarter net income rose 16 percent on higher revenue from membership fees and international operations.
Macy’s Inc.’s revenue figure rose 4.8 percent, ahead of analysts expectations of a 3.3 percent gain.
“The back-to-school season has been one of our most successful in years,” CEO Terry J. Lundgren said in a statement.
High-end retailers reported strong results as well. Saks revenue in stores open at least one year rose 6.5 percent, nearly double the 3.8 percent gain analysts predicted.
Nordstrom’s revenue figure rose 7.5 percent, better than the 4.3 percent analysts expected.
Limited Brands’ revenue in stores open at least one year rose 12 percent, almost triple the 4.1 percent analysts expected.
Abercrombie & Fitch Co. revenue in stores open at least one year rose 13 percent, far above the 3.6 percent rise analysts expected. The preppy teen retailer has been lowering prices in an effort to entice shoppers into its stores. It cut costs by 12 percent during the month and 14 percent year-to-date. Results sent its shares up 8 percent in premarket trading.
Aeropostale reported revenue in stores open at least one year rose 3 percent, better than the 2.4 percent drop predicted by Wall Street.
Target said sales of food and health care products were strong but clothing sales dropped off in the last week of the month. Its revenue in stores open at least a year rose 1.3 percent in September, missing analyst predictions of a 1.9 percent rise. Target expects the figure to rise in the low single digits in October.
The Gap reported revenue in stores open at least one year fell 2 percent, worse than the flat result analysts expected.
In a recorded monthly sales call the company said that due to the weaker-than-expected sales the company expects “some pressure in October to clear through fall inventory in advance of the holiday,” which could mean heavy discounts.
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