WRAPUP 1-Wal-Mart, warehouse clubs lead U.S. Sept retail sales

Wed Oct 8, 2008 8:29am EDT

Related Topics

* Discounters, warehouse clubs fare well

* Clothing retailers suffer

* Wal-Mart stands by third-quarter outlook, shares rise

By Aarthi Sivaraman

NEW YORK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - U.S. discounters like Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and warehouse clubs performed well in September, while apparel retailers struggled as the economic slowdown prompted cash-strapped shoppers to be more thrifty, according to sales data released on Wednesday.

For months, consumers have sought deals for staples such as food and fuel, as they battled higher prices, a housing market slump, job losses and a credit crunch.

Many balked even more at spending in September as a financial crisis deepened, with several big U.S. financial firms failing or accepting shotgun buyouts.

Shoppers headed to discounters like Wal-Mart and warehouse clubs such as Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) to stock up on necessities during the month, though sales at both were slightly below expectations.

Wal-Mart posted a 2.4 percent increase in September sales at stores open at least one year. Analysts expected a 2.5 percent increase, according to Thomson Reuters Estimates.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, stood by its third-quarter profit forecast calling for earnings of 73 cents to 76 cents per share from continuing operations.

Wal-Mart stock rose 1.8 percent in premarket trading.

Same-store sales jumped 7 percent at Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O), less than the 7.5 percent increase analysts expected.

Overall, U.S. retailers were expected to post a rise of 1.5 percent in monthly same-store sales, slightly above the 1.4 percent rise a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Excluding Wal-Mart, a gain of 0.4 percent was expected overall in monthly same-store sales for retailers, while department stores and specialty apparel chains were seen posting steep declines.

Clothing retailers continued to suffer in September, as consumers avoided spending on discretionary items such as clothes and accessories.

Same-store sales at Pacific Sunwear of California Inc (PSUN.O) fell 5 percent, better than the analysts' target. But it expects third-quarter earnings at the low end of its forecast for nil to 5 cents a share as it had to mark down more of its clothing.

Same-store sales fell 7.5 percent at Wet Seal Inc WTSLA.O, and were flat at Children's Place Retail Stores Inc (PLCE.O) -- both worse than anticipated.

Same-store sales fell 6 percent at women's clothing retailer Cache Inc (CACH.O), as expected by analysts. (See here for SHOP TALK -- Reuters' retail and consumer blog) (Reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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