Retailers Post Strong Same-Store-Sales in January

Andrew Klips  |

After a tepid December, retailers saw a burst in sales during January, buoyed by the U.S. averting the fiscal cliff, more people having jobs that originally thought and a flurry of sales to make shelf space for upcoming spring fashions.

Thursday is the final day of retailers reporting, with sales stats coming from key department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s. Some of the notables releasing figures included:

Macy’s Inc. (M) – blew past the 5 percent increases that analysts predicted with January-over-January growth of 11.7 percent. In the five-week period ended February 2, 2013, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Macy’s recorded sales of $1.799 billion, which was 34.6 percent higher than the four-week period last year. This year is an odd year (that happens about once every six years) where the January period reflects an extra week during fiscal 2012, creating a 53-week fiscal year for most retailers. Companies report their sales on a comparable, 4-week basis, though. Shares are trading ahead by 1.7 percent around lunch.

Kohl’s Corp. (KSS) – said that January 2013 sales perked by 13.3 percent compared to January 2012, paced by strong sales in the western U.S. Total sales increased to $1.13 billion, up from $844 million in the year prior month. Wall Street was only expecting sales to increase by 3.1 percent. Shares have slipped 0.76 percent in trading so far today.

Target Corp. (TGT) – topped estimates of 1.7 percent growth with a gain of 3.1 percent to $5.97 billion for the five-week period ended February 2, 2013, compared to $4.61 billion in January 2012. Shares are down by 0.64 percent halfway through the day.

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Gap Inc. (GPS) – beat analyst guesses of 4 percent increases comparing January 2012 to January 2013 with a sales rise of 8 percent. Sales for San Francisco, California-based Gap tallied $1.13 billion this January versus $883 million last year. Shares have tumbled 4 percent in trading.

Limited Brands Inc. (LTD) – The owner of its namesake brand as well as Victoria’s Secret and La Senza stores, reported 9 percent growth in same-store-sales for January, outstripping estimates of gains of 3.4 percent. Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands reported Victoria Secret sales were up 8 percent; Bath & Body Works comparable store rose 10 percent; and sales at La Senza stores increased 15 percent. Shares are down almost 3 percent just after noon Eastern.

Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) – surpassed analyst predictions of 3.9 percent increases in U.S. same-store-sales, by reporting a gain of 4.0 percent. Net sales for the wholesale giant increased to $9.35 billion last month from $8.74 billion the year prior month. Shares of COST are flat on the day.

Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) – reported same-store-sales for January grew by 11.4 percent compared to January 2012 with total sales equaling $951 million. Shares started strong, but have since fallen by 1.2 percent mid-day.

The number of companies reporting same-store-sales on a monthly basis is dwindling. Less than two dozen still do it, compared to five dozen in the mid-2000’s. The reasons for companies ceasing to release the reports aren’t difficult to grasp: they require more paperwork and can be a lead to explanations when it comes time to disclose mandatory quarterly reports. Majors, such as the world’s biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), Sak’s (SKS) and J.C. Penney Co. (JCP) have recently stopped the practice.

The number is going to get smaller with Target, Kohl’s Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (BONT) and Stage Stores Inc. (SSI) already saying that they are ending the practice with the new year.

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