NEW YORK — Warmer weather helped retailers keep up with their June sales plans, while warmer sentiment on Wall Street pushed their stocks ahead.
This story first appeared in the June 18, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Regaining territory lost last week, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average raced ahead 213.21 points, or 2.3 percent, to close at 9,687.42. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 also swelled, pushing up 28.54 points, or 2.8 percent, to end the day at 1,035.81.
Broadline retailers chiming in with comparable-store sales updates on Monday were rewarded by investors. Posting generally on-plan same-store sales last week, as well as rising shares, were Wal-Mart Stores, which saw its stock rise $1.36, or 2.4 percent, to $58.31; J.C. Penney Co., $1.08, or 4.8 percent, to $23.45; Federated Department Stores, $2.30, or 5.7 percent, to $42.50. ShopKo Stores’s stock rose $1.01, or 5.4 percent, to $19.66.
Though Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s comps slid below its planned decrease for the month last week, investors were forgiving and traded shares of the firm up $1.20, or 2.2 percent to close at $57.10.
Although specialty stores didn’t release weekly updates on sales activity, many managed to ride the retail pickup anyway. Among those managing better than 3 percent ramp-ups in their stock price Monday included: American Eagle Outfitters, up 94 cents to $22.12; Christopher & Banks, $1.52 to $42.49; Chico’s FAS, $1.39 to $40.57; Deb Shops, $1.52 to $30.38; Talbots, $1.55 to $38.95, and Urban Outfitters, $2.02 to $36.35.
Off-pricers were also strong with Dollar General up $1.08, or 6.3 percent, to $18.26, and Factory 2U jumping $1.40, or 10.8 percent, to $14.42.
Buckingham Research Group analyst Daniel Binder noted: “A lot of the stocks were beaten down in May on soft sales and the beginning of June seems to be better.
“Stocks seem to be trading on the latest data point,” he said of the recent sales releases. “That isn’t necessarily a good thing. It creates volatility.”
Comparable-store sales at Wal-Mart’s namesake division last week continued to track toward the upper end of its planned 5 to 7 percent uptick in June. Comps at the Sam’s Club division were in line with the projected 3 to 4 percent range for the month.
Warmer weather continued to drive sales in seasonal categories for both divisions with hardlines outpacing softlines. “Basic commodities and the food business remained strong and appear to be some of the beneficiaries of the ongoing traffic growth we have experienced over the last several months,” said a spokesman on a recorded call. Intimate apparel was cited as one of the Wal-Mart division’s strongest growth categories for the week.
While also having better luck in hardlines than softlines, Sears said its comps last week fell below its target for the month of a low-single-digit drop. Women’s apparel, however, was among the better-performing categories in its full-line stores last week.
Penney’s said its department store comps were in line with its plan for a low-single-digit increase in June, despite “soft” sales during the week, according to a recorded call. Strongest merchandise categories included home, children’s and women’s apparel. Catalog sales were about 15 percent below year-ago levels.
With two weeks of June already in the ledger, Federated continued to expect same-store sales to be flat to down slightly for the five-week fiscal month. ShopKo’s consolidated same-store sales last week trended above its flat to slightly up guidance for the month.