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August Comps Crux

Among the retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, only two reported comparable-store sales results below analysts’ expectations.

UP BEAT: Among the retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, only two — teen retailers The Wet Seal Inc. and Zumiez Inc. — reported August comparable-store sales results below analysts’ expectations, producing an 88 percent “beat” percentage that was the highest in TR’s more than decadelong history of monitoring monthly sales. Wet Seal, poised for a proxy fight over the composition of its board, was expected to drop 17 percent and fell 18.3 percent, while Zumiez was up 3.7 percent for the month, a point shy of its anticipated finish. Drug retailers Rite Aid and Walgreens report August results next week. Without them, the median increase for the month was 3.6 percent, nearly twice the 2 percent increase expected. For the fourth month in a row, the nation’s two largest off-price chains, The TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc., registered identical comp increases, with August’s gains crossing the finish line at 8 percent.

CALENDAR CURL: August results in August? Stores generally report their monthly results on the first Thursday of the subsequent month. But with the irregularities of retailing’s 4-5-4 calendar, into which the industry’s 13-week quarters are divided, occasionally the tally for a four-week month falls at the tail end of the month being reported. And, as the peculiar mathematics of the Gregorian calendar would have it, the “last Thursday” phenomenon already has occurred twice in 2012 — in May as well as August — and will happen once again, at the end of November, before the year is through. It never happened in 2010 or 2011 and won’t occur in 2013 or 2014, either.

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