Retail sales rise, miss expectations
Retailers reported same-store sales Thursday, and many showed growth that missed expectations and slowed from a year earlier.
The retail sector is expected to report slowing sales growth for June. Warm weather in the winter months may have contributed to the slowdown, as consumers likely bought warm-weather goods earlier than usual.
Reports from companies such as Costco (COST) have already shown slowing sales growth. For June, Costco reported that sales excluding fuel rose 3% year-over-year, missing expectations of a 3.5% rise.
Retailers as a whole are expected to report that same-store sales rose 2.4% in June, about a third of the pace set last year. Same-store sales rose 7.7% in the same period in 2011.
Costco said that the timing of the July 4 holiday contributed to the slower rate of June sales growth. In 2011, the holiday fell on July's first Monday, so its sales were pulled forward into June, according to Costco. If this is the case, the Fourth of July might bolster July and third quarter 2012 sales more than the holiday did in 2011.
Limited Brands (LTD) continued its streak of bucking the trend, as sales rose 7% in June compared to estimates of a 2.4% gain. Sales of Victoria's Secret products drove sales higher as other brands such as Bath and Body Works saw sales growth slow from a year ago.
Buckle (BKE) reported its first year-over-year monthly sales decline in more than two years, as sales fell 2.5% in June. The consensus estimate was for a flat year-over-year reading. As a result, sales at the youth retailer were significantly worse than expectations.
Stress in the economy and severe weather towards the end of the month likely contributed negatively to sales growth. Also, weaker than expected economic data has shown stresses in the economy, which may have subtracted from sales.
Geographically, retailers showed mixed results. Costco reported that sales in the Midwest and the Northwest of the United States were strong in June. However, Stage Stores (SSI) reported that the Northeast, the South Central, and the Southwest were strong in sales growth in June. As more companies report same store sales over the next few weeks, investors will see whether these discrepancies are store-specific or relate more closely with the types of products sold.
Costco shares fell less than 1% Thursday to close at $94. For the day, Limited Brands shares rose around 6.4% to $46.97 per share.
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