FINANCE

U.S. retail sales rose in February by most in five months

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — A report released Tuesday by the Commerce Department said that retail sales in the United States rose 1.1% in February, the most in five months.

The advance matched Bloomberg estimates and followed on the heels of a 0.6% increase in January that was larger than anticipated.

The Commerce Department report showed that demand improved in 11 of 13 industry categories, including auto dealers and clothing stores. Purchases at clothing stores rose 1.8%, the most since November 2010. Furniture and general merchandise stores were the only categories to show a decrease in demand. Sales increased 1.6% at automobile dealers.

Purchases excluding autos increased 0.9%, the report showed, exceeding the median forecast of economists surveyed that projected a 0.7% gain.

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FINANCE

Urban Outfitters misses in Q4, plans 55-60 new stores in 2013

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Philadelphia — Urban Outfitters Inc. reported Monday that profit for the fourth quarter fell to $39.3 million, from $75.2 million a year earlier. Sales rose 9% to $730.6 million, missing Wall Street’s expected $740 million in revenue.

The operator of Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters stores said heavy discounting over the holidays took a big toll on margins; in fact, margins have declined for at least five quarters as the retailer has made major markdowns to clear out slow-moving merchandise.

“I am pleased that we managed our inventories to appropriate levels at year-end even though our margins during the quarter suffered as a result,” CEO Richard Hayne said in a statement.

Same-store sales for the quarter dipped 1%.

Last year, Urban Outfitters opened 57 stores and said it is planning comparable expansion for 2013. In its conference call with investors on Monday, the company said it plans to open 55 to 60 new stores in fiscal 2013, with 13 of those slated to open in the first quarter.

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News

Retail sales continue to grow in 2012

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON — Retail sales continue to rise for 2012 as the U.S. Census Bureau reported results of February sales on Tuesday.

U.S. retail and food services sales for February, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $407.8 billion, an increase of 1.1% from the previous month and 6.5% above the year-ago period. Retail trade sales were up 1.1% from last month and 6.3% above last year.

Looking across retail categories, adjusted sales at grocery stores increased 0.3% to roughly $52.3 billion. Health and personal care stores held steady at $23.2 billion. Retail sales for drug stores and pharmacies were not recorded; however, sales experienced a slight gain from December to January (about $19.3 billion).

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