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MasterCard: Retail sales up in most sectors in November

BY Marianne Wilson

Purchase, N.Y. — Sales growth was strong across most retail sectors in November, with early promotional activities and additional hours giving Black Friday sales, which traditionally account for 6%-7% of November’s total sales, a boost, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail sales.

Among the sectors that saw an increased growth rate during November was luxury, which saw its third consecutive month of strong year-over-year growth and its second in the double digits.

Electronics posted its highest growth rate of the year, and even furniture was up, after nine consecutive months of declines.

“Sales momentum started picking up well before Thanksgiving, thanks to aggressive pre-Black Friday promotions,” said Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “Then the longer hours and the perfect weather combined to make for a strong Black Friday. Considering that Black Friday can account for 15% of electronics sales and 10% of apparel sales for the month that can be a big driver of growth. The relatively easy comparisons we have with November 2010 have also helped.”

Apparel and jewelry also showed positive year-over-year returns, though without the increase in growth seen in some other sectors.

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Kroger Q3 profit slips 2%, but beats Street

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Cincinnati — Kroger Co. on Thursday raised its full-year forecast and also projected earnings growth for its next fiscal year that was ahead of long-term goals even as its profit slipped 2% in the third quarter.

The chain reported profit of $195.9 million profit for the quarter ended Nov. 5, down from $202.2 million a year earlier. Still, its results topped Wall Street expectations.

Revenue rose 10%, including fuel, to $20.59 billion from $18.7 billion in the year-ago period, and same-store sales gained 5%, without fuel. Analysts expected $20.4 billion in revenue.

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Guess Q3 profit dips 4% as tax rate increases

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Los Angeles — Guess Inc. said Wednesday that profit for the quarter ended Oct. 29 fell 4% as the clothing company’s tax rate increased. The chain reported net income of $66.3 million, compared with $69.1 million in the year-ago period. The company’s effective tax rate rose to 32.3% during the quarter from 29.1% a year earlier. As a result, the incomes taxes Guess paid rose 5% to $31.9 million.

Revenue rose 5% to $642.8 million from $613.9 million, missing Wall Street’s expected $657.2 million in revenue. Same-store sales in the United States fell 3.5%.

"We are pleased to deliver third quarter earnings consistent with our expectations, even as economic pressures have intensified and are affecting consumer confidence in many of our markets, particularly in Europe,” said Paul Marciano, CEO. “Our efforts to elevate our brand in North America are yielding significant improvements in profitability. We enjoy momentum in Asia and the newer markets in Europe where our brand is well known but where our business is still under-penetrated. And we are focusing on sound execution, managing our inventories, expenses and capital prudently."

The company is projecting fourth quarter profit and revenue that are short of Wall Street estimates.

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