H&M July Sales Beat Forecast

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Stockholm—H & M beat expectations with a 10% rise in July sales and said it expects to continue its rapid expansion, the company said today.

The world’s largest fashion chain after Gap Inc. and Spain’s Inditex said sales from stores open more than a year were up 10%, compared with expectations of a 2% rise. The increase was the retailer’s largest in two years. Total sales were up 21%, well above forecasts of a 12% rise.

H&M said in June that price cuts in the third quarter may be higher than in the year- earlier period after it was left with more spring merchandise than it had estimated so markdown sales might  probably boosted July revenue, retail analysts said.

“A continuous optimistic consumer, easier comparables, and warmer weather after some cold months in April and May are the best explanations for the strong same-store sales,” said Soeren Hansen, an analyst with Sydbank in Aabenraa, Denmark. “I expect H&M to post modest but positive same-store sales for the whole year.”

H&M said its total number of stores worldwide was 2,066 in July, from 1,828 a year earlier. The company, which is expanding rapidly in markets worldwide, said this summer it expects to open 180 new stores in the second half  in countries including Germany, the United States and China.