US retailers report lower November sales

Leading US retailers reported November sales that were broadly lower than expected, as a post-Thanksgiving rush failed to offset earlier weak demand, reported the Financial Times. Retail Metrics, which tracks the monthly comparable sales figures, said its index for the month rose just 0.7 per cent from last year, when sales slumped. Ken Perkins, head of Retail Metrics, said the “the bottom line is that comp store sales were very disappointing ahead of the critical December holiday shopping season”.

“The standard line from many retailers was a stronger year-on-year Black Friday [post-Thanksgiving] weekend was not enough to offset very weak sales throughout most of the month.”

JC Penney, the low price department store, reported a 5.9 per cent fall in its comparable sales, in line with its forecast of a drop of 4 to 7 per cent, but on top of last November’s 11.9 per cent decline.

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“Strong sales for the Black Friday weekend offset slightly weaker sales beginning mid-month and leading up to Thanksgiving,” the company said.

Target, the second largest discounter, said its comparable November sales were down 1.5 per cent against last November, with softer sales in the first three weeks “substantially offset by better-than-expected sales during our post-Thanksgiving Two-Day sale”.

The retailer said it has seen strong sales of apparel, but also said that while overall sales levels had decreased, the number of transactions had increased.

Abercrombie & Fitch, the teen retailer, reported a 17 per cent fall in comparable sales, far worse than analysts’ expected. Aeropostale sales were slightly worse than expected, with a 7 percent rise, and its shares fell over 10 per cent in New York after its quarterly earnings forecast disappointed market analysts.

Gap, the largest US speciality clothing retailer, reported overall comparable sales that were flat, but saw a 6 per cent increase at its low price Old Navy stores, offsetting comparable 4 per cent declines at its US Gap and Banana Republic stores, and a 5 per cent decline in its international business.

Luxury retailers Neiman Marcus and Saks reported comparable sales declines of 7.5 per cent and 26.1 per cent, on top of the declines of around 30 per cent seen in November and December last year in the aftermath of the Wall Street crash. Saks said it still expected comparable store sales for the fourth quarter to be down in the high-single digits.

Image: Gap shopper

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