Retail sales solid in September

New York City -- Despite ongoing concerns about the economy, retailers fared surprisingly well in September, helped by the tail end of back-to-school shopping and cooler temperatures.  

Overall, Thomson Reuters, which tracks same-store sales for a group of 23 national chains, said the group was expected to post a 4.6% increase in same-store sales for September. Retailers surpassed expectations, with a 5.1% rise led by strong performances from Target, Limited Brands, Zumiez and Costco Wholesale, among others. Walgreens, however, disappointed with a 3.1% rise in same-store sales, missing analysts’ expectations.

Still, the U.S. consumer in September "showed resilience in spite of all the troubling economic news," Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, told Reuters.

September is particularly important in the apparel category, as it picks up the final portion of the back-to-school shopping period – the second-largest retail spending season behind the holiday period of November and December.

In the apparel sector, Zumiez shone with a 10.1% increase in same-store sales in September, beating Wall Street estimates of a 3.2% rise and raising its third-quarter outlook. Gap, however, reported a 4% dip in September same-store sales, on flat revenue of $1.35 billion. Results were in line with Wall Street expectations, but the retailer has pledged to improve. “While there were some bright spots across our brands and business units, we’re clear and focused on the steps necessary to improve our business performance going forward,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap.

Limited Brands turned in a strong performance in September, with same-store sales up 11% on the strength of its Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works brands. Results solidly beat Wall Street’s expected 4.6% rise.

In other apparel same-store results for September:

  • The Buckle outdid estimates, with a 10.3% increase. Wall Street expected a 3.8% rise.
  • Wet Seal same-store sales dipped .3%, widely missing analysts’ expected 3.8% rise.
  • Cato September same-store sales dropped 3%.
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