FINANCE

Costco and L Brands shine in August; Gap disappoints

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Costco Wholesale Corp. and L Brands Inc. were among the retailers that posted stronger-than-expected sales in August, fueled in many cases by back-to-school promotions.

Costco led the pack, reporting a 7% gain in August total same-store sales, ahead of views for a 4.9% gain. U.S. same-store sales, excluding the negative impacts from gasoline price deflation and foreign exchange, rose 7% as well. Top-performing categories at Costco included housewares, small appliances, apparel, fresh foods and food sundries.

L Brands reported a 5% increase in August same-store sales, topping estimates for a 2.8% gain. The growth was led by a 5% increase in sales at Victoria’s Secret.

Gap Inc., however, posted disappointing results, as same-store sales fell 2% from year-earlier levels, missing analyst expectations of a 1.6% rise. By brand, Banana Republic global same-store sales declined 2% and Old Navy global same-store sales increased 2%, compared with expectations of increases of 0.7% and 3.4%, respectively.

"We’re encouraged by the positive momentum at Old Navy, while focused on the necessary steps to drive improved performance across our portfolio of brands in the back half," said CEO Glenn Murphy.

In other same-store results for August:

• Cato reported a 3% increase, above expectations.

• Stein Mart posted a 2.5% increase in same-store sales for the month, short of views for a 3% gain.

• Walgreen’s sales rose 3.7%, missing analyst expectations.

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New dress code woes at Walmart?

BY CSA STAFF

Walmart has reportedly issued a new dress code and staff members are not happy, according to Gawker.

Complex magazine reported that the new dress code “requires certain employees to wear white or navy blue collared shirts with khaki or pants, capris, or skirts,” according to Walmart human resources executive Barbara Simone.

Click here to read the entire article on Complex, including comments from disgruntled staff members, reportedly made on Walmart's internal website, some of which were leaked on Gawker.

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FINANCE

IBM: Mobile drives growth in August online sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

Armonk, N.Y. — Online U.S. retail sales for August 2014 were up more than 11% as compared to the same period the prior year. According to new IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark data, mobile traffic accounted for 41.5% of all online traffic, up 34% compared to the same period the previous year.

Mobile sales saw strong growth, up nearly 39%, reaching 7.8% of all online sales. Smartphones drove 27% of all online traffic compared to tablets at 13.8%, making the smartphone the browsing device of choice. When it comes to making the sale, tablets drove 11.5% of all online sales while smartphones accounted for nearly half of that at 6.2%. Tablet users also averaged $110.93 per order, more than smartphone users, who averaged $95.65 per order.

As a percentage of total online sales, iOS was more than four-times higher than Android, driving 14.2% compared to 3.5% for Android. On average, iOS users spent $108.81 per order compared to $77.66 for Android users, a difference of 40%. iOS also led as a component of overall traffic with 27.4% compared to 13.7% for Android.

Looking at socially influenced sales, IBM found that Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $113.20 per order, compared to Pinterest referrals, which drove $142.76 per order. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at a rate more than three times that of Pinterest referrals, perhaps indicating stronger confidence in network recommendations.

Supporting these overall trends, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark also reported trends across three of the hottest retail categories for back-to-school purchases. With shoppers stocking up on new fall clothing and back-to-school supplies, the department stores, office supply and electronics and apparel categories all saw boosts in sales in August:

1. Department Stores: August total online sales grew by more than 16% from the same period last year, with mobile sales growing by 24% year-over-year.

2. Office Supply/Electronics: August total online sales grew by more than 3% from the same period the prior year, with mobile sales growing by nearly 32%.

3. Apparel: August total online sales grew by more than 17% from the same period the previous year, with mobile sales growing by 31% year-over-year.

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