Retail sales results mixed in January

New York -- Although there were some surprising gains among retailers in January, for the most part results were expectedly mixed, as consumers took a hit on their take-home pay from higher payroll taxes but cooler weather gave a boost to others.

Costco Wholesale Corp. edged Wall Street expectations with a 4% same-store sales increase in January; analysts forecast a 3.9% advance. TJX Cos. reported a 3% rise in monthly same-store sales, and raised its fourth quarter and full-year outlook. Kohl’s shone with a 13.3% rise, but The Buckle widely missed with a 2% drop.

Overall, analysts expect 3.5% same-store sales growth for January across 18 retailers, excluding Walgreens and Rite-Aid, according to Thomson Reuters. That would be down from 4.4% growth in January 2012.

Most of the specialty store players performed well in January. Gap saw same-store sales rise 8% in January, handily beating Wall Street’s expected 4% gain. By brand, same-store sales rose 12% at Old Navy and 8% at both Gap and Banana Republic. Total revenue for the month rose 28% to $1.13 billion.

“We’re pleased with the continued momentum in the business across all our brands in North America,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO, Gap Inc. “As we transition to 2013, our focus remains on delivering compelling product in order to sustain our positive sales performance.”

The Limited also delivered a strong January showing. Same-store sales surged 9%, and total sales rose to $986.4 million from $774.5 million.

Wet Seal, on the other hand, disappointed with a steep same-store sales decline of 9.4%, far wider than the 2.3% drop expected by Wall Street. The struggling retailer found some success with its Arden B chain, which rose 22.8% on a same-store basis, but namesake stores plummeted 13.4%.

Other specialty store results include:

  • The Buckle dropped 2%, while analysts expected a 1.3% gain;
  • Hot Topic rose 2.6%;
  • Cato dropped 12%;
  • Stage rose 10.5%; and
  • Zumiez same-store sales rose 2.6%.

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