By  on March 4, 2011

LET IT SNOW: Wickedly wintry weather, especially through the midsection of the U.S., couldn’t keep consumers out of the stores, and specifically away from the apparel racks, in February. Thomson Reuters expected same-store sales to rise by 3.6 percent last month, but its monthly same-store sales index landed at a heady 4.2 percent, even better than the 4 percent finish of February 2010.

BEST OF THE BUNCH: Saks Inc. reported the month’s strongest comparable-store sales growth, at 15.3 percent, as well as the biggest “beat” versus expectations, which were pegged at 4.9 percent. Second in both categories was the current reigning champion of the teen sector, Zumiez Inc., which finished the month ahead 12.8 percent, versus a 4.2 percent estimate. Limited Brands Inc. again excelled, comping up 12 percent with the help of Victoria’s Secret’s 15 percent advance.

COLD CONSOLATION: Stage Stores Inc.’s 7.2 percent decline was the weakest showing among WWD’s sample, but chief executive officer Andy Hall also proffered a credible explanation for it: The snow-swept states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri represent more than half the company’s sales, and even a pickup of about 10 percent in the second half of the month couldn’t eraseearlier decreases.

SECTORALLY SPEAKING: Department stores had the biggest gains for the month, averaging 5.3 percent on the Thomson Reuters index, although apparel stores were up more if Gap Inc.’s 2 percent decline was excluded. With Gap, they were up 3.1 percent; without, up 5.6 percent.

OVER AND OUT: February marked the first month that the Three A’s of Teen Retailing — Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Aéropostale Inc. and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. — didn’t report comps. The remaining teen retailers averaged a 4 percent increase.

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