Retailers Report Strong December

Several major chains also raise earnings forecasts
Posted January 8, 2010

A number of major retailers reported better-than-expected sales gains for December and have raised their earnings forecasts for the fourth quarter. Among the companies taking the latter step are American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale, Limited, Macy’s, Nordstrom and TJX Cos.

In comments echoed by several other retail executives, Limited chairman and ceo Les Wexner said, "We are very pleased with our holiday performance. We managed inventory and expenses conservatively and focused on execution and speed to maximize sales and margin. Going forward, we plan to continue our conservative management of the business and increase our emphasis on speed and agility."

Overall, holiday sales for U.S. retailers grew 1.8 percent from a year earlier, according to an index of 33 retailers compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers. That uptick, along with the retailers’ earnings upgrade announcements, are being taken as signs that the economy may finally have turned a corner.