Strategy

Retailers Report Promising Sales

October sales growth was a better-than-expected 4.4 percent, above the year-to-date average, according to a new report.
Stephen TaubNovember 3, 2005

It seems as if consumers are comfortable with opening their wallets, which bodes well for the overall economy. A large number of retailers have reported very strong October sales, beating not only revenue forecasts but same-store estimates as well.

As a positive influence on sales, The Wall Street Journal cited colder weather in the latter part of the month, which encouraged shoppers to start buying seasonal merchandise such as sweaters and coats. The Associated Press noted, however, that during the month consumers were also dealing with Hurricane Wilma as well as the lingering fallout from Katrina and Rita.

“Consumers are hanging in there, despite facing significant pressure on their discretionary income,” said Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics, according to the wire service. “The glass is more full heading into the holiday season. The consumer doesn’t seem to be tapped out.”

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Meanwhile, the AP noted that 69 retailers tracked by the UBS-International Council of Shopping Centers racked up October sales growth of a better-than-expected 4.4 percent, above the year-to-date average of 3.9 percent. The numbers are based on same-store sales.

Chains marketed to teens and upscale shoppers also did extremely well. Three teen favorites racked up huge gains same-store sales: Abercrombie & Fitch (31percent), Wet Seal Inc. (46.6 percent), and Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (7.9 percent). Among luxury retailers, Nordstrom Inc. reported that same-store sales climbed 6.4 percent while Neiman Marcus Group Inc. reported that comparable revenue rose 7 percent, according to the Journal.

Even Wal-Mart Stores Inc. did very well. The world’s largest retailer had been struggling of late, as many of its traditional customers were hurt by rising gasoline prices. However, in October it racked up comparable-store sales of 4.3 percent, in line with the company’s forecast, according to the Journal.

Comparable sales at the company’s flagship Wal-Mart stores rose 3.9 percent, while same-store sales at its warehouse discount unit Sam’s Club rose 6.7 percent. Those results got a boost from the high price of gasoline, which the discounter also sells. Excluding gasoline, Sam’s Club saw a 4.8 percent increase.

Wal-Mart reportedly added that it expects November same-store sales growth in the 3 percent to 5 percent range and that it is forecasting a strong holiday shopping season.