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Apparel Store Sales Cooled in September

Apparel store sales performance slowed in September, with an increase of only 4.3% for the top 15 reporting stores, lower than August’s 7% increase. Although back-to-school was reportedly fairly strong for most stores, unseasonably warm weather hurt traffic and failed to spark sales of new fall apparel and accessories.
Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose a collective 3%, less than half August’s 6.3% increase.

As usual, results for the month varied by segment and channel:
Teen retailer Zumiez skated to the top of the pack for the tenth straight month with a better-than-expected 18.5% increase in total sales and a 5.6% same-store sales rise. However, Buckle, which used to be a Wall Street favorite, failed to make estimates for the fifth time in six months by posting a total sales increase of only .8% and a drop of .8% in comps. Drowning specialty retailer Wet Seal also missed estimates, with total and same-store sales plunging by 9.9% and 12.7%, respectively, making it the worst performer in the group for the sixth straight month.
Long-suffering Gap seems to have turned things around, with a third straight month of impressive sales gains thanks to dramatic improvements in the North American businesses. Same-store sales rose 6%, and total sales increased by 7.4%, to $1.45 billion.
Off-pricers Ross Stores and TJX were again among the biggest total sales gainers for the month, as they continued to wow customers with their brand-names-at-a-price concept. Ross saw total sales climb 10.2% to $800 million for the month, while TJX also beat expectations with a total sales gain of 13.6%. Both off-pricers saw comps advance by between 5 and 6%.
Stage Stores was a pleasant surprise in September, with total sales up 13.6% and comps shattering expectations with a stunning 11% gain. Other department stores were less impressive. Macy’s missed expectations with total and comp sales increases of 2.7% and 2.5%, respectively. Kohl’s also disappointed with a 1.4% decrease in total sales and a 2.7% fall in comps. Steinmart enjoyed a 3.7% increase in total sales and a same-store sales rise of 2.4%.
Nordstrom, the only high-end department store to still report on a monthly basis, had a slightly disappointing 4.4% rise in same-store sales, though total sales were up by 7.4%.
Limited Brands, turned in a better-than-expected same-store sales gain of only 5%, though their lowest in a few months, and a drop in total sales of 5.5%, due to the continuing negative effect of the sale of its third-party sourcing business.
Target managed to exceed estimates with total sales up by 2.6% and comps ahead 2.1%. However, much of Target’s sales are in non-apparel. Taking the impact of Target out of the results, total sales rose 5.2% and comps jumped 4.6%. The discounter has announced it will cease to report monthly sales results after January 2013.
% Total vs LY
$
Millions
% Comps vs LY
Company
Sept
FYTD
Sept
FYTD
Sept
FYTD
Zumiez
18.5
20.9
63
328
5.6
12
TJX
13.6
10.3
2,500
16,100
6.0
8.0
Stage Stores
13.6
8.1
134
1,005
11.1
5.2
Ross
10.2
12.5
800
6,245
5.0
8.0
Gap
7.4
6.5
1,450
9,710
6.0
5.0
Nordstrom
7.1
11.4
1,010
7,330
4.4
7.5
Steinmart
3.7
1.9
103
762
2.4
1.3
Macy’s
2.7
3.7
2,358
16,430
2.5
3.6
Target Corp
2.6
3.1
6,075
44,607
2.1
3.8
Buckle
0.8
5.1
99
679
-0.8
3.1
The Bon Ton
0.7
-0.2
289
1,705
0.6
-0.1
Cato
0.6
0.2
71
638
-4.0
-3.0
Kohl’s
-1.4
0.8
1,608
11,545
-2.7
-0.9
Limited
-5.5
-3.3
774
5,992
5.0
7.0
Wet Seal
-9.9
-7.2
48
386
-12.7
-13.8
Total
4.3
4.6
17,381
123,461
3.0
4.4
Total xTarget
5.2
5.6
11,306
78,854
4.6
6.8

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