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June Comp Crux

June comparable-store sales numbers were expected to benefit from a series of positive influences, but the actual numbers surprised both analysts and investors.

JUNE BOUNCE: June comparable-store sales numbers were expected to benefit from a series of positive influences, the lateness of the arrival of warm weather and Memorial Day among them, but the actual numbers surprised both analysts and investors, who sent the S&P Retail Index to an all-time high less than a month after it had backed off more than 10 percent from the previous high-water mark set on May 13. Thomson Reuters had estimated a 4.9 percent boost in June comps but wound up with a 6.5 percent gain as 87 percent of companies tracked beat estimates and just 13 percent fell short.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

WEB WEAKNESS: By nearly all calculations, The Wet Seal Inc. had a strong month, with a 7.3 percent comp advance qualifying as the second biggest upside “surprise” of the month. (A 1.9 percent increase was expected.) But the company reported that its e-commerce sales for June, not included in its comp number, declined 17 percent, a rare exception to the good news that’s characterized Susan McGalla’s tenure as chief executive officer of the company since her arrival in January.

UNLIMITED HORIZONS:
The only company with a better “surprise” in June than Wet Seal was Limited Brands Inc., which again confounded the experts by coming up with a 12 percent comp rise versus expectations of a far more modest 3.8 percent boost. The Bath & Body Works unit did fine — ahead 5 percent — but Victoria’s Secret added to a string of sensational showings, comping up 17 percent. In fact, during the 2011 calendar year, the innerwear giant has missed a double-digit comp increase only once — during the disappointing month of May. Its best performance was in January, when comps soared 35 percent.