SpendingPulse: Strong results for most retail sectors in September
Purchase, N.Y. — Consumer spending remained strong for most sectors in September, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and service sales. Most segments reported positive year-over-year sales results, with particularly strong results in the apparel, hardware, and department store sectors.
“The U.S. consumer continues to spend across multiple sectors outside of the sectors tied to the housing market,” said Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse. “This resilience in retail sales growth has been impressive in spite of disruptive weather, high gasoline prices and generally negative economic news.”
McNamara suggested that some of the boost in year-over-year results may be due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene back in August, particularly in stores with a strong presence on the East Coast. The strong performance in hardware may reflect some repair work, and September’s apparel sales may have been boosted by delayed back-to-school shopping, he said.
In other news, the poor housing market continues to be reflected in declines in furniture, furnishings, and electronics and appliances.
The SpendingPulse Back-to-School sales index shows a year-over-year increase of 3.6%, compared with the July-September time period in 2010. This index aggregates the sales performance for children’s apparel, family apparel, department stores, office supplies and drug stores. Children’s apparel, for example, had the highest year/year growth since 2007, and all the Back-to-School categories showed increases compared with the 2010 season, according to the report.
Target shoppers unfazed by Walmart’s EDLP emphasis
A moderately better than expected 5.3 % September same-store sales increase was driven by broad-based gains in most categories nationwide, Target reported on Thursday. The increase was due almost entirely to larger average transaction sizes and came on top of a prior year increase of 1.3%. The company also noted that customer traffic as measured by comparable-store transaction increase a little more than 1%.
“We’re very pleased with our September comparable-store sales, which were somewhat ahead of our expectations,” said Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel. “We experienced strong sales results throughout the month and across a broad array of merchandise categories, demonstrating Target’s ability to deliver on both sides of our ‘Expect More. Pay Less’ brand promise and generate strong financial performance even in this soft economic environment.”
As has been the case throughout the year, September comps in food increased in the mid teens and comps in the household essentials area were also up more than the company average. The beauty category led the way and experienced a high single-digit increase, while comps in apparel and accessories were up more than the company average. Double-digit increases were reported in the intimate, hosiery and performance apparel segments followed by a high single digit increase in kids’ apparel. Jewelry and accessories were the weakest performers.
In the hardlines area, comps decreased in the low single-digit range, with the strongest performance in toys and the softest performance in electronics. Comps in home furnishings and décor increase in the low single-digit range, led by a mid single-digit increase in domestics, with the softest performance in decorative home area.
Aside from the solid overall 5.3% gain, Target has to feel good that every region of the country reported a healthy increase in comps and that inventory levels were described to be in very good condition. For the October reporting period the company is expecting more of the same with a forecast calling for a comp increase in the low to mid single-digit range.
Success of others is encouraging sign for Walmart’s apparel dept.
Americans spent lots of money on apparel in September, and that could be good news for Walmart where last we heard from stores division president and CEO Bill Simon apparel was a key areas where he was confident the retailer would see ongoing improvement during the back half of the year.
Simon expressed optimism about the apparel business in mid-August when Walmart reported second quarter results that included a mid-single comps decline for apparel that was said to be an improvement from the first quarter. His vow of ongoing improvement in the third quarter doesn’t necessarily mean apparel comps will be positive, but a strong showing in September from competitors across the board can only be viewed as an encouraging sign for a key Walmart department.
For example, sales results show shoppers had plenty of money to spend on apparel, at least more than analysts expected anyway, as leading department stores and discounters reported better than expected September same-store sales. Nordstrom led the pack with a 10.7% increase, followed by Saks at 9.3% and Macy’s at 5.3%. Ross Stores produced a 5% increase followed by Kohl’s at 4.1%, TJX at 4% and Dillard’s at 3%. The weakest performance was turned in by Gap, which reported a 4% decline at its North American stores and JCPenney where comps declined 0.6%. Target doesn’t break out its apparel sales, but did say the apparel and accessories category outperformed the company average, which was 5.3%.
As for Walmart, back on Aug. 16 in a recorded conference call, Simon noted, “We are well-positioned to gain sales and share for the important back-to-school season. We are expanding our offerings in important categories to regain customers, and we’re adding back items in key brands. I’m confident that the back half of the year will see ongoing improvement in apparel sales.”