November Retail Sales Comps Beat Estimate

In Reports, What's New, Industry News by Jeff Prine

Lbrands-030614New York—November comparable store may actually have not only beat economists’ estimates, but also surprised some retailers.

In its report released Thursday, Retail Metrics, a research firm, said comp store sales at reporting retailers (except drugstores) grew 5.2% in November, ahead of the 3% gain analysts expected.

“November was OK—certainly retailers were promotional in November, and that probably contributed to it,” said Ed Yruma, an analyst at Keybanc Capital Markets. “The week before Black Friday we saw retailers begin to pull promotions forward. We saw generally soft results for the weekend and that’s because they pulled some of those sales forward.”

Data compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) also points to a respectable rise in retail activity for November. Retail spending rose 4.9% last month, says an ICSC spokesman. “Sales showed a steady industry-wide performance for the month, with apparel showing a strong uptick compared to October,” added ICSC spokesman Jesse Tron. “It’s an encouraging reading for the holiday season and means we should continue to expect significant improvement over the 2013 season.”

While less than 10 major retailer still continue to report monthly results, many of the large ones’ comp sales beat estimates, including Costco, L Brands and Gap Inc.

Lower gas prices, falling unemployment and improved consumer confidence index helped drives sales at retailers, economists said.

Retailers began offering holiday deals earlier than ever this year that may explain why sales in the days following Thanksgiving were weaker than some analysts’ had estimated.

One of the retailers who Wall Street is watching for change is Gap Inc. The largest U.S. apparel-focused retailer said comparable store sales increased 6%, exceeding estimates for a 1.6% decline. Leading the results were Old Navy brand, which posted an 18% comp-store sales increase last month, beating estimates for a 0.5% gain. Banana Republic saw sales grow 2% exceeding a forecast for a 0.6% decline, and sales at Gap brand declined 4%, less than the 4.5% predicted.

L Brands, which owns the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works brands, said in a statement today that comparable store sales rose 8% last month, exceeding the estimate for a 4.1% increase.

also topped estimates, posting a 9% sales increase in sales excluding fuel, compared with a forecast for a 5.7% gain.

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