A dose of cool autumn weather helped produce some badly-needed traffic and allowed retailers to report October sales that were unspectacular but better than expected.
Among the small group which continues to supply sales data on a monthly basis, all but Zumiez Inc. checked in with better comparable results than those expected by analysts. Gap Inc. reports its October results this afternoon, after the close of the markets.
L Brands Inc., formerly Limited Brands, supplied the biggest upside surprise Thursday morning, reporting an 8 percent leap in overall comps and a 10 percent jump at the Victoria’s Secret division, versus anticipated respective increases of 2.2 and 2.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters. Bath & Body Works’ 4 percent gain was more than twice the 1.8 percent increase expected, although La Senza fell short with a 2 percent decline against an expected rise of 2.5 percent.
Stein Mart Inc. continued its winning streak with a 5.4 percent increase for the month, more than double the 2.5 percent increase expected. “We are working hard to maintain our momentum through the fourth quarter, despite the shortened holiday selling season and highly promotional environment we see around us,” said Jay Stein, chief executive officer.
The Buckle Inc. was expected to register a 1.7 percent comp decline for October but instead posted a 2.6 percent increase. However, Zumiez fell short of the 1.7 percent increase expected with a 1.2 percent gain.
Continuing to battle to get a new distribution center functioning properly, American Apparel Inc. reported a 1 percent decline, with the 3 percent decline in its same-store sales nearly offset by a 12 percent increase in online revenues. Dov Charney, chairman and ceo, said the company’s management was “beginning to breathe a sigh of relief that we are overcoming some of the challenges we were experiencing at our new distribution center.”
Cato Corp. reported that its comps were up 3 percent last month versus expectations for a 2 percent decline. “October sales benefited from some cooler weather during the month relative to the prior year,” said John Cato, chairman, president and ceo. “However, we continue to expect a difficult sales environment through the fourth quarter.”
Cato raised its guidance for third-quarter earnings to a range of between 13 and 15 cents a diluted share, up from previous estimates of between 2 and 9 cents but below the 16 cents reported in the comparable quarter last year.
Gap Inc. is expected to report a 0.1 percent increase in overall comps for the month, with increases at Gap and Old Navy compensating for a decline at Banana Republic.