Retailers report strong November sales

New York City -- Most retailers are reporting strong sales gains in November, with their performance boosted by heavy traffic over a promotion-fueled Black Friday weekend. Among the retailers that reported results beating Wall Street expectations were Macy’s, Costco Wholesale, Limited Brands and The Buckle.

Target was a notable exception in November, reporting a same-store sales gain of 1.8%, missing Wall Street’s expected 2.8% gain.

According to Thomson Reuters, which tracks 22 chains, analysts on average are expecting same-store sales to rise 3.1% from a year ago. But retailers are up against strong performances last year, when they gained, on average, 5.5% during the month.

“Retailers pulled out all the stops over Black Friday, which fueled record holiday weekend sales and drove solid November growth," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, in a Reuters report. "That sets up well for the remainder of the season. But the next two weeks are critical."

Retail sales were up 8.7% over last year’s Black Friday weekend, and totaled $50.06 billion, excluding autos but including gasoline, food and online purchases, according to MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse, which tracks payments in all forms including cash.

In the apparel segment, The Limited turned in a strong performance, recording a 7% rise in November same-store sales, handily beating Wall Street’s expected 4.4% gain.  By brand, same-store sales rose 11% at Victoria’s Secret and 6% at Bath and Body Works. The metric declined 7% at its La Senza lingerie chain, however. Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 26 fell 2.3% to $872.6 million. The company said the decline was due to the sale of its third-party apparel sourcing business at the beginning of the month.

Gap’s same-store sales metric didn’t fare as well, falling 5% in November, compared with a 5% gain in the same period a year ago and missing Wall Street’s expected 4.3% decline. CEO Glenn Murphy said in a statement that he expects the rest of the holiday shopping season "to remain fiercely competitive and highly promotional."

By Gap brand, Banana Republic North America had the strongest showing, with flat same-store sales in November. Gap North America fell 2% and Old Navy North America plummeted 7%.

In other apparel same-store results for November:

  • Wet Seal same-store sales dipped 3.1%.
  •  Zumiez same-store sales rose 2.7%.
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