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Blame It On Sandy: Apparel Store Sales Sluggish in November

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Apparel store sales growth slowed dramatically in November as 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 rose a collective 1.6% for the top 15 retailers that still report monthly sales, below last month’s 4.8% rise and well below the 3.3% expected increase. However, things could have been worse: many apparel retailers saw encouraging momentum toward the end of the month and reported strong Thanksgiving weekend sales.

Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, were flat in November, compared to a 4.1% increase in October.  Dec Comp1

Department store operator Stage Stores turned in a surprisingly stellar performance as the number one hit in the month, with a 16.5% increase in total sales and a 13.2% same-store sales rise. Off-pricer TJX (operator of Marshall’s, TJMaxx and HomeGoods) also enjoyed a double-digit total sales rise, though comps were only 3%, below expectations.

Value department store Steinmart saw total and same-store sales jump 7.5% and 7.1%, respectively.

Buckle missed expectations, posting a total sales increase of 1.9% and a slight drop in comps. Another teen retailer, Zumiez, saw total and same store sales fall 4,5% and 5.4%, a reversal of fortune compared to the sales gains of earlier in the year.

Drowning specialty retailer Wet Seal saw total and same-store sales plunge yet again, marking its eight straight month at or near the bottom of the pack.

Gap had its fifth straight month of sales gains thanks to continued improvements in the North American businesses, even though the 3% increase in same-store sales fell short of expectations. Total sales increased by 3.4%, to $1.5 billion. The retailer reportedly enjoyed very strong traffic over Thanksgiving weekend.

Macy’s missed expectations with total and comp sales decreases of .6% and .7%, respectively.

Kohl’s failed to meet its plan, with a 4.9% dive in total sales and a 5.6% drop in comps. The Menomonee Falls, WI-based retailer announced it would stop reporting monthly sales in early 2013.

Nordstrom, the only high-end department store to still report on a monthly basis, also had an disappointing month, with total sales up by only 1.8% and comps down 1.1%, due primarily to lower than expected traffic at its early November sale.

Limited Brands turned in a disappointing same-store sales gain of 5%, its lowest in several months, and an increase in total sales of 5.7%, thanks to a very strong finish to the month.

Target failed to meet estimates with total sales up by only .1% and comps behind by 1%. However, much of Target’s sales are in non-apparel. Taking the impact of Target out of the results, total sales rose 2.6% and comps jumped .1%. The discounter will cease to report monthly sales results after January 2013.

 

 

% Total vs LY

$

Millions

% Comps vs LY

Company

Nov

FYTD

Nov

FYTD

Nov

FYTD

Stage Stores

16.5

9.1

141

1,259

13.2

0.4

TJX

10.0

9.7

2,200

20,300

3.0

7.0

Steinmart

7.5

2.6

110

959

7.1

2.0

Ross

6.3

11.4

813

7,773

2.0

7.0

Limited

5.7

-2.5

922

7,525

5

7

Gap

3.4

6.1

1,520

12,440

3.0

4.0

Cato

2.0

0.5

65

767

-2.0

-2.0

Buckle

1.9

4.8

97

860

-0.1

2.8

Nordstrom

1.8

10.4

926

9,092

-1.1

6.7

Target Corp

-0.1

4.8

6,183

55,773

-1.0

3.2

Macy’s

-0.6

3.2

2,450

20,786

-0.7

3.1

The Bon Ton

-0.8

0.0

301

2,206

-0.1

0.2

Wet Seal

-4.5

10.3

47

18,247

-5.4

-6.0

Zumiez

-4.5

-6.8

47

472

-5.4

-6.0

Kohl’s

-4.9

0.0

1,836

14,773

-5.6

-1.1

   Total

1.6

5.5

17,733

173,675

0.0

3.6

   Total xTarget

2.6

5.8

11,550

117,902

0.1

5.6

 

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