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Retailers report mixed sales results in May

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New York City May brought mixed sales results for retailers, with early reports on Thursday suggesting an erratic recovery in consumer spending during a seasonally weaker period of shopping. Based on reports of 11 retailers out of 28 tracked by Thomson Reuters, 60% came in ahead of expectations, while 40% fell short.

A Memorial Day holiday that fell on the last weekend of the month probably dragged sales down by a low- to mid-single-digit percentage rate, with more shopping pushed into June, analysts said. Also, cooler weather everywhere but the Northeast, as well as heavier rain in the Northwest, hurt sales of summer apparel.

Among apparel retailers, Limited Brands said May same-store sales rose 5%, easily topping the 2.1% gain analysts had forecast. The company reported net sales of $657.3 million for the four weeks ended May 29, compared with $618.7 million last year.

The Buckle, a high-flyer during the recession, reported that its same-store sales fell 5.4% in May, while analysts expected a slight rise. Total revenue for the four weeks ended May 29 fell less than 1% to $60.3 million, from $60.6 million last year.

At Gap, same-store sales rose 1%, better than the 0.6% gain forecast by Wall Street analysts and last year's 6% decline. Net sales for the four-week period ended May 29, rose 2% to $1.05 billion.

Aeropostale’s same-store sales were up 1% in May. Total net sales for the four-week period ended May 29, increased 7% to $141.6 million.

The retailer said that its results for the month include a negative impact due to the Memorial Day calendar shift. It also stated that its merchandise margins for the month increased significantly over last year, and inventories remain well controlled and on plan.

In other same-store sales results for May:

  • American Eagle Outfitters’ sales fell 3%. Wall Street analysts expected a decrease of 2.5%, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. Total sales dipped 1% to $193 million.

  • Abercrombie & Fitch said its sales fell 3%, greater than the forecast for a dip of 2.3%. Total sales rose 10% to $198 million.

  • Cato said its sales increased 3%. It reported sales of $80.9 million for the four weeks ended May 29.

  • Wet Seal’s sales fell 5.3% in May, a slightly smaller drop than analysts expected. Total sales for the four weeks ended May 29 fell 4% to $40.2 million. Sales fell 4.6% at namesake stores and dropped 7.8% at Arden B.

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