BEST OF THE MONTH: Both in terms of its pure sales increase — 21.5 percent — and its upside to expectations, for a gain of 7.8 percent, action sports specialty retailer Zumiez Inc. dominated the October comps picture as it solidified its position as the teen retailer to watch.
WORST OF THE MONTH: Hot Topic Inc.’s 8.5 percent drop was the largest of the stores tracked by WWD, but Stein Mart Inc.’s 6.5 percent decline, coming against an anticipated drop of 1 percent, provided the biggest disappointment.
NOTEWORTHY DESCENT: Aéropostale Inc.’s 2 percent contraction was its second decline in the last three months and came against expectations of a 3.1 percent increase.
BUCKING UP: The Buckle Inc.’s 2.6 percent rise marked its second consecutive month of increases following four straight declines for the store that had long been the star of the same-store sales universe.
ALIBI OF THE MONTH: Weather, weather everywhere. October’s warm start put many stores in a hole out of which they were unable to promote, leaving cold-weather categories with low sales and excess inventory even after meteorological trends proved more seasonable later in the month.
SECTORAL SOFTNESS: With J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Kohl’s Corp., The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and Stage Stores Inc. all finishing with declines, the midtier department stores will be under increasing scrutiny. The slip at Kohl’s was its first negative number in six months.
BETTER BY FAR: Luxury continued its comeback, with Neiman Marcus Inc. up 11.5 percent; Saks, helped by an October event, ahead 8.1 percent and Nordstrom Inc. 3.4 percent above its year-ago mark.