Most of well-established US fashion retailer saw modest growth in their comparable sales during September, mostly thanks to last-minute back-to-school shopping. Higher consumer confidence also helped. Despite September sales have been hit by higher gasoline prices and uncertainty about the upcoming presidential election, consumer sentiment has hit a four-month high in September. According to the national board that measures this index, the US consumer confidence index rose to 70.3 in September from the 61.3 achieved in August, beating expectations of a 64.8 reading.
Sales in the current environment may wane when customers don’t have an “event” to get them shopping, Jennifer Davis, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets in New York, wrote in a note to clients. Sales slow when the customer does not have a ‘need’ to go to the mall,” Lazard’s Davis wrote. “We expect sales to pick up again when the weather cools.”
Consumers may limit shopping trips as they stay in tune with daily political commentary before the Nov. 6 election, Charles Grom, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, wrote in a note. Grom also reminded that in the past four presidential elections, same-store sales in the third quarter of an election year were lower than the first half average, on a one- and two-year stacked basis.
With this climate, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the retailers' comparable sales to increase 3.6 percent in September, lower than the 6.4 percent rise in September last year. Most of the retailers topped analysts' estimates, except Buckle, according to data provided by Nasdaq.
Victoria’s Secret parent company, Limited Brands, Inc. (LTD), posted comparable store sales rose 5 percent, higher than Wall Street expectations for a 4.3 percent growth. Their net sales amounted to 773.6 million dollars, down from 818.6 million dollars last year. The smaller gain this year was another indication that the economy is “sluggish,” said to ‘Dispatch.com’ Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics, a consulting firm. Consumers are only willing to spend money, he said, “when retailers make it worth the trip with strong opening price points and substantial promotions.”
In the same vein Chairman and CEO of Gap, Glenn Murphy, explained how "In September, strong customer response to trend-right product across all brands helped us deliver continued positive performance in North America." Gap’s net sales grew 8 percent to 1.45 billion dollars.
September has proved to be a good month also for the beloved department store chain Macy’s, which comparable-store sales improved 2.5 percent year over year for the month of September, attributable to continued strength in its online business. Total sales increased 2.7 percent to 2.4 billion dollars, compared to the 2.3 billion dollars reached a year ago. The company stated that the comparable store sales for August/September combined, marked an elevation of 3.6 percent year over year, reflecting strong back-to-school sales.
Sales at TJX Cos. (TJX) also climbed - 6 percent , beating the average estimate for a 4.4 percent gain from analysts surveyed by researcher Retail Metrics Inc. Meanwhile,
However, “The winner of the group is TJX,” Ron Friedman, head of retail and consumer products at accounting firm Marcum LLP, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “They’re where everyone was last year, but they’re still there, and nobody else is there really. They had the right product, they hit the kids for back to school.”