By  on January 5, 2012

BRAND BARGAIN BONANZA: Expectations were high, and recent performance solid, for the two luxury retailers reporting December same-store sales Thursday, and neither disappointed — Nordstrom Inc. was up 8.7 percent and Saks Inc. ahead 5.8 percent for the month. More surprising was the excellent December put together by the nation’s two largest off-price chains. The TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. put together increases of 8 percent and 9 percent, respectively, and supplied the first- and third-largest upside surprises — 5.4 and 4.8 points — versus analysts’ expectations, according to Thomson Reuters. Both seized the opportunity to lift their fourth-quarter earnings estimates, and TJX announced plans for a two-for-one stock split effective Feb. 2 for shareholders of record Jan. 17.

MERCHANDISING METEOROLOGY: Outerwear and other cold-weather gear were a sore spot for many retailers, who spent much of last month waiting for frigid temperatures that never materialized, and will likely spend much of January discounting inventories just as the mercury settles into more seasonal territory. December’s final week was the warmest in years throughout much of the country, and instead of the blizzard in the Northeast that brought business to a virtual standstill on the day after Christmas in 2010, this year most shoppers had not only clear roads but a Monday off.

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