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Spending slows at big retailers in April; Macy’s, Target, Kohl’s, Costco fall short of expectations

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Macy’s Inc., Target Corp., Kohl’s, Saks and Costco’s Wholesale Corp. all reported results that fell short of expectations in April. An early Easter, which helped fuel March results, high gas prices, cool weather and renewed worries about the economy contributed to the decline, according to many analysts.

“Early results show there was a sequential slowdown from a particularly strong February and March,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics LLC, in an AP report. “Weather cooled and consumer took a bit of a breather. But spending is still decent.”

One of the strongest performances in April was turned in by TJX Cos., whose same-store sales rose 6% in April, easily topping Wall Street’s forecast. The company also boosted its first-quarter and fiscal 2013 earnings outlooks.

Macy’s Inc. said that its same-store sales edged up 1.2% in April. Analysts had predicted a 1.9% increase. The retailer said that it expected its monthly performance to be softer than March given the earlier Easter and a shift in a cosmetics event to March from April.

Macy’s also said that April was hurt by Mother’s Day being later in May than it was a year ago. Online sales, which include macys.com and bloomindales.com, were up 29.9% in April. Macy’s revenue at stores open at least a year includes its online sales.

Target Corp. said its same-store sales rose 1.1% in April, below the 2.8% increase predicted. However, the chain said that same-store sales for the the first quarter rose 5.3%, the strongest performance in six years for that period.

At Kohl’s, same-store sales in April fell 3.5%, below the 1% decrease Wall Street was expecting. CEO Kevin Mansell said warm weather in March and an early Easter contributed to the decline in sales for April.

Geographically, Kohl’s said the Midwest, Northeast, South Central and West outperformed the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. It also said the home, accessories and men’s departments all reported increases in revenue at stores open at least a year.

Costco Wholesale Corp. missed Wall Street estimates for the second month in a row. Costco’s same-store sales rose 4%, below the expected 5.1% increase.

At Saks Inc., same-store sales rose 2% in April, short of the 4% rise analysts expected.

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Specialty apparel mostly stays strong in April

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Several apparel retailers, including Limited Brands, Zumiez and Ross Stores, posted better-than-expected sales in April. It was widely expected that an earlier Easter, which pushed demand into March, and cool weather would hurt sales.

Limited Brands, parent of Victoria’s Secret, reported a 7% rise in same-store sales for April, beating estimates.

Teen clothing retailer Zumiez also beat expectations with a 10.1% gain in April. The Buckle’s same-stores sales edged up 1% slightly higher than analysts’ estimates.

At Hot Topic Inc., same-store sales rose 7.5% in the first quarter, with sales up at both its namesake and Torrid chains. The company also raised its first-quarter earnings projection above analyst expectations, but second-quarter guidance missed expectations.

Ross Stores Inc. said its same-store sales jumped 7% in April, beating Wall Street predictions and prompting the discount clothing retailer to boost its first-quarter profit guidance.

But April was not kind to all apparel retailers. The Wet Seal Inc. reported a 9.6% decrease in same-store sales, a bigger drop than analysts expected, hurt by lower demand for tops and jewelry. Sales fell 9.1% at namesake stores and 12.1% at its Arden B chain.

Gap Inc.’s April same-store sales fell 2%, a bigger decline than analysts expected. But the retailer also gave a fiscal first-quarter earnings guidance above Wall Street’s expectations, and its February-April quarterly revenue beat analysts’ estimates.

Gap said its namesake and Banana Republic stores in North America posted gains in same-store sales in April, while Old Navy North America and international stores declined.

The Cato Corp. said that its same-store sales fell 6% in April, partly because Easter fell earlier than last year.

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Aéropostale to offer exclusive Battleship, G.I. Joe apparel

BY CSA STAFF

Hasbro has partnered with teen retailer Aéropostale for an exclusive line featuring the Battleship and G.I.Joe brands.

The line will include men’s graphic t-shirts featuring Battleship and G.I. Joe images ahead of the debuts of "Battleship" on May 18 and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" on June 29.

“There is an immense amount of excitement building around the Battleship and G.I. Joe brands and upcoming films and the classic apparel collection at Aeropostale will allow fans to further immerse themselves in the iconic action-adventure brand experiences that have spanned from childhood play to big screen entertainment, and become a lifestyle statement,” said Simon Waters, SVP global brand licensing and publishing at Hasbro.

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