September Retail Sales Improve on Back-to-School, Employment
Reuters reported today that September retail sales at 17 chains tracked by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S increased by 3.6% over September 2011, in line with analyst expectations. However, Costco (Nasdaq: COST) and Gap (NYSE: GPS) beat analyst expectations while Kohl's (NYSE: KSS) missed, reporting same store sales down 2.7% from last year.
Retailers were helped by the tail end of the back-to-school season and a modest improvement in the employment picture. Overall retail sales for September were up only 0.8% compared to expectations of a 1.6% increase.
Lazard Capital Markets analyst Jennifer Davis was cited by Bloomberg saying, “Sales slow when the customer does not have a ‘need' to go to the mall. We expect sales to pick up again when the weather cools.”
It should be noted that some large retailers, such as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) do not report monthly sales figures and are not included in today's figures.
The presidential election is expected to have a negative impact on retail sales during October, particularly for department stores, according to Charles Grom, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, cited by Bloomberg. Political advertising in the weeks just prior to the election tend to crowd out everyday advertisers, including apparel retailers and department stores, especially in swing states where the outcome is in doubt. Once the election is over, retailers will be able to run their advertisements again as consumers gear up for the year-end holiday season.
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