NEW YORK – The shortest month of the year brought retailers some of the smallest same-store sales gains seen over the last 12 months.

But February, with its tricky weather -namely a big mid-month winter storm in the Northeast that chilled spring apparel sales – wasn’t a complete blackout given that retailers faced some of the toughest monthly sales comparisons of late.

Moderate department store chains Kohl’s Corp. and J.C. Penney Co. were big winners in the month. Kohl’s, which posted a 3.4 percent rise in February comps, and J.C. Penney with a 2.3 percent comp increase in February, were up against 6.1 percent and 5.9 percent comp increases from last year, respectively. Specialty retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc. had a higher-than-expected 6 percent February comp increase when it was up against a 32.4 percent increase from last year. And Chico’s FAS turned in a 5.7 percent February comp increase that was below analysts’ expectations, but the month’s sales were up against a 9.2 percent rise from last year.

The luxury sector had a slightly off month, with Nordstrom posting a 4.9 percent increase and Saks Inc.’s Saks Fifth Avenue division with a 6.7 percent decline; the retailers faced 7 percent and 7.1 percent increases from last year, however.

For more, see tomorrow’s WWD.

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