Retailers Report Modest January Sales

Signs of improvement over last year
Posted February 5, 2010

The retail sector collectively posted a 3.3 percent sales increase at stores open at least a year, according to Thomson Reuters, which says it marks the strongest results since April 2008. Last year, retailers had a 5.6 percent decline in January same-store sales.

While retailing analysts are cautious to say that the positive results show signs that consumers are ready to start spending again, January marks the fifth consecutive month of positive same-store sales after months of sharp declines.

Among high-end retailers, Saks reported same-store sales were up 7 percent; Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman saw a 4.5 percent rise; and Nordstrom says its same-store sales grew 14 percent.

In the discounts sector, same-store sales at BJ’s Wholesale Club rose 8.4 percent; 8 percent at Costco; and 0.5 percent at Target.

TJX Companies, operator of the T. J. Maxx and Marshalls chains, posted a 12 percent same-store sales increase. Ross Stores reported an 8 percent increase compared to last year.

Thomson Reuters says the department store sector reported the worst monthly results, with same-store sales dropping 5 percent at Dillard’s, 4.6 percent at JCPenney and 2.5 percent at Stein Mart. Some did see sales improvement, however, with Kohl’s reporting a 6.5 percent sales growth and Macy’s seeing a 3.4 percent gain.

Among specialty apparel retailers, sales at Children’s Place rose 12 percent; American Eagle Outfitters up 10 percent; Limited Brands and Aéropostale both grew 6 percent; Gap up 5 percent; and Zumiez increased 1.8 percent. Abercrombie & Fitch, which has watched sales drop since May 2008, reported an 8 percent increase.