* Analysts: 4.3 pct same-store sales gains for top 13 chains
* Costco, L Brands miss estimates
By Phil Wahba
May 9 Costco Wholesale Corp and
Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc reported
smaller-than-expected sales gains in April, when consumer mood
swooned on concerns about the job market recovery.
Costco reported a 4 percent gain in sales at stores open at
least a year, slightly less than expected because of sharply
lower gas prices compared with a year ago. Still, the warehouse
club operator said sales of food and consumer electronics were
L Brands same-store sales were up 2 percent, but sales were
disappointing at all its major brands, including Bath & Body
Works, and the company missed forecasts of a 4.6 percent again.
Analysts expect 13 U.S. retailers who still report monthly
sales, including T.J. Maxx parent TJX Cos and Gap Inc
, to post a 4.3 percent rise in same-store sales for
April, according to Thomson Reuters, better than the 0.8 percent
gain a year earlier.
April sales got a boost from Easter's timing in late March.
But at the same time, the weather was cool in much of the
country, delaying many shoppers' purchases of spring clothing.
Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Tennant said in a
note this week that retailers were more aggressive in offering
discounts in April, but things eased at the end of the month,
suggesting stores had not over-ordered, and making it likely
they will avoid panicked markdowns.
Despite what turned out to be strong hiring in April,
consumer morale lagged the news. U.S. consumer sentiment dipped
last month as Americans remained concerned about their
employment and financial prospects, a Thomson Reuters/University
of Michigan survey late in April found.
U.S. employment rose at a faster pace than expected in April
and hiring was much stronger than previously thought in the
prior two months, while the U.S. stock market indices marched to
Teen retailers The Buckle and Zumiez Inc
each reported much better-than-expected April sales on Thursday.
Last week, drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp reported
same-store sales fell 4 percent in April, largely because of
many lower cost generic drugs coming to market in the last year.
Larger rival Walgreen Co reported a modest 1.2 percent
rise, hurt by a drop in sales of general merchandise.
Other chains expected to report later on Thursday include
TJX, Gap and Ross Stores Inc. As previously announced,
TJX and Ross will no longer report monthly sales after the April
That will leave 11 U.S. chains reporting monthly sales, down
from a peak of 68 in 2006. In the years since, big names such as
Macy's Inc, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Best Buy Co
Inc have dropped out of the same-store sales index.