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Apparel Store Sales Pick Up in December

Apparel store sales growth picked up unexpectedly in December, though comparisons were easy relative to November, the month in which Superstorm Sandy took its toll on retailer foot traffic and forced many stores to close due to flooding, wind damage and power outages.
Total sales jumped 4% for the top 15 retailers that still report monthly sales – more than double the prior month’s increase.
Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose 3.1% in December, compared to flat comps the month before. Although retailers enjoyed strong momentum coming out of Thanksgiving weekend, many feared that sales would be more negatively affected by fiscal cliff talks and the tragic CT school shootings. Retail industry experts are watching for the impact of the expiration of payroll tax cuts on consumer spending in early 2013.
However, it is important to note that these 15 companies represent an ever-shrinking percentage of overall retail sales. Walmart, JCP, Sears, the women’s specialty chains, major men’s apparel brands, teen retailers and many others no longer report sales on a monthly basis. Over the next couple of months, Target and Kohl’s will also cease reporting.

Dec store sales

Zumiez regained its edge, returning to its position as the top monthly performer with a 14.7% total sales gain, though same-store sales were off by 1%.
Off-pricers Ross and TJX also fared very well, with total sales among the best of the bunch, and comps up 6% for both.
High-end department store Nordstrom delighted investors with a total sales rise of 9.4% and comps that were up 8.6% as strong traffic resumed.
Value department store Steinmart saw total and same-store sales jump 6.3% and 5.9%, respectively.
Buckle missed expectations, posting a total sales increase of only 1.8% and a 1% rise in comps.
Wet Seal continued to flounder, with total and same-store sales down 8.3% and 9.7%, respectively, its ninth straight month finishing at or near last place.
Gap, had its sixth straight month of sales gains thanks to continued improvements in the North American businesses, particularly at Old Navy. The 5% increases in total and same-store sales beat expectations.
Macy’s exceeded expectations with total and comp sales increases of 3.6% and 4.1%, respectively.
Kohl’s beat its plan, with a 3.9% leap in total sales and a 3.4% rise in comps, though much of it came at the expense of margin.
Limited Brands turned in a rare disappointing same-store sales gain of 3%, its lowest in several months, and an increase in total sales of 4.2%.
Target failed to meet estimates with total sales up by only 0.7% and flat comps.

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% Total vs LY

$

Millions

% Comps vs LY

Company

Dec

FYTD

Dec

FYTD

Dec

FYTD

Zumiez

14.7

18.8

120

543

-1.0

5.0

Ross

11.1

11.4

1,276

9,049

6.0

7.0

Nordstrom

9.4

10.2

1,719

10,811

8.6

7.0

TJX

9.1

9.6

3,600

23,900

6.0

7.0

Steinmart

6.3

3.2

177

1,135

5.9

2.6

Stage Stores

5.1

8.3

287

1,546

2.7

5.5

Gap

5.1

5.8

2,080

14,520

5.0

4.0

Limited

4.2

-1.2

1,947

9,472

3

6

Kohl’s

3.9

1.0

3,374

18,147

3.4

-0.3

Macy’s

3.6

3.3

5,102

25,887

4.1

3.3

Buckle

1.8

4.2

185

1,045

1.0

2.4

The Bon Ton

1.5

0.3

513

2,719

2.4

0.6

Target Corp

0.7

3.3

10,214

65,987

0.0

2.7

Cato

-3.9

0.0

103

870

-7.0

-3.0

Wet Seal

-8.3

-7.0

73

545

-9.7

-8.0

   Total

4.0

4.5

30,770

186,175

3.1

3.6

   Total xTarget

5.7

5.2

20,556

120,188

4.6

5.5