Retailers again found their sales results lacking in May, as unfavorable weather conditions and a calendar shift were unable to explain away lackluster performance.

 

Results for last month generally came in below expectations and year-ago levels, although a number of stores reported that sales conditions improved as more seasonal weather began to arrive in many parts of the country towards the end of the month.

 

Macy’s Inc. checked in with a 1.4 percent increase in same-store sales for the month, a figure that the firm felt could have hit 5 percent if not for the shift which moved some sales related to the Memorial Day holiday into June.

 

Kohl’s Corp. was up 3.5 percent in May, but J.C. Penney Co. Inc. fell 1.8 percent. Dillard’s Inc. had a flat month, while The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. experienced a 1.1 percent decline in results for May. 

 

Upscale department stores, up against double-digit declines a year ago, had positive results for the month. Saks Inc. was up 5.8 percent, Neiman Marcus Inc. 5.6 percent and Nordstrom Inc. 3.7 percent.

 

Specialty stores struggled, particularly in the teen sector. Although Aéropostale Inc. eked out a 1 percent advance, American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. both experienced 3 percent declines in comparable-store sales, while The Buckle Inc. posted a 5.4 percent decline.

 

Gap Inc. was up 1 percent for the month, as 1 percent gains at its Old Navy and Banana Republic nameplates were offset by a 2 percent decline at Gap.

 

The Wet Seal Inc. was off 5.3 percent for the month. Ed Thomas, chief executive officer, said that decline might be due in part to a “pause by consumers after relatively strong buying earlier in the year.”

 

Among mass merchants, Target Corp. was up 1.3 percent for the month, considered a disappointment by Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and ceo. “Our recent experience reinforces our belief that we will continue to experience volatility in the pace of economic recovery,” he said.

 

The two largest off-price chains in the U.S. continued to post positive results. The TJX Cos. Inc. was up 4 percent and Ross Stores Inc. picked up 5 percent, ahead of expectations for a rise of 2 percent to 3 percent.

 

For complete coverage, see Friday’s issue of WWD.

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