Costco Wholesale Corp <COST.O> on Thursday said U.S. sales at stores
open at least a year rose 3 percent, while L Brands Inc <LB.N>
reported a better-than-expected 2 percent rise, lifted by gains at
its Victoria's Secret lingerie chain.
The unusually cold, snowy weather that slammed retailers in January
continued into the first half of February, including an ice storm
that idled much of the Southeast for days.
Gap Inc <GPS.N> reported a 7 percent decline in comparable sales,
and said 450 of its stores were closed at some point or other in
February because of the weather. Analysts expected a 0.9 percent
increase. Gap's shares fell 3 percent after hours.
Excluding drugstores, the Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index,
which tracks a group of major retailers, registered a 0.3 percent
increase for February, missing analyst projections for a 1.9 percent
The S&P 500 Retail Index closed down 0.5 percent on Thursday, while
the broader S&P 500 <.SPX> rose 0.2 percent.
But sales trends improved as the weather got better and many U.S.
consumers got tax refunds, said John Cato, chief executive of
discount clothing chain Cato Corp. <CATO.N>
Last week, the chief executives of department store chain Macy's Inc
<M.N> and jeweler Zale Corp <ZLC.N> also reported much brisker
business after Valentine's Day.
"Bring on the spring, and you'll see a much improved consumer
spending pace, said Michael Niemira, chief economist of the
International Council of Shopping Centers.
He reiterated his expectation for consumer spending to keep
improving this year as the job market and economy gain strength.
A later Easter this year will dent March sales but help overall
sales for the season as weather is less likely to disrupt shopping,
Niemira said. Easter is on April 20 this year.
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Shoppers kept gravitating to deals last month.
Teen apparel Zumiez Inc <ZUMZ.O> said its same-store sales rose 2
percent as it held sales to clear out holiday season merchandise.
Rival chain Buckle Inc <BKE.N> said its sales declined more than
Walgreen Co <WAG.N> said fewer shoppers came into its stores, but it
sold more general merchandise, lifting its comparable sales 4.5
percent. Rite Aid Corp <RAD.N> said a milder flu season had hit
sales, but its same-store sales rose 1.5 percent.
Off-price retailer Stein Mart Inc <SMRT.O> said cold weather in
Northeastern and Midwestern states contributed to a decline of 2.1
percent last month, when analysts were expecting a 2.5 percent rise.
The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc <PLCE.O>, which does not
report monthly sales, said it was "taking a cautious stance" for its
2014 forecasts given the weather last month and the "heightened
promotional environment." Its shares were down 10.4 percent.
Costco also reported its full-quarter results, that showed unusually
deep discounting in the holiday shopping season hurt margins, and
its shares fell 3.2 percent.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York;
editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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