By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK Dec 5 Several major U.S. retailers
posted disappointing sales for November after cautious shoppers
pinched their pennies at the start of a shorter holiday season.
Some of the companies that reported sales gains ramped up
bargains to bring in shoppers who appeared hesitant to splurge.
Costco Wholesale Corp on Thursday said sales at
stores open at least a year rose 2 percent, below the 3.3
percent increase analysts were looking for, according to Thomson
Reuters. The warehouse club chain said consumer electronics
Same-store sales at L Brands Inc, owner of the
Victoria's Secret lingerie chain, also came in below
expectations. Its drop of 5.5 percent was far deeper than the
1.1 percent decline analysts were projecting.
Wall Street analysts are expecting 11 top retailers to
report a 2.7 percent increase in same-store sales for November,
according to Thomson Reuters. Excluding drugstore operators,
which get two-thirds of revenue from prescriptions, that gain is
estimated at 2.3 percent.
Gap Inc will report its November sales after U.S.
Retailers have been contending with low consumer confidence
and the need to prod shoppers with bargains this holiday season,
which has six fewer days because of a late Thanksgiving.
The National Retail Federation on Sunday said U.S. shoppers
had spent 2.9 percent less this year over the Thanksgiving
weekend, the kickoff to the holiday season.
The Conference Board, an industry group, said last week that
U.S. consumer confidence fell in November after a sharp drop in
October as Americans worried about their future jobs and
Earlier this week, J.C. Penney Co Inc reported a
10.1 percent comparable sales increase, partially reversing a
disastrous decline in 2012, but the department store chain had
to resort to aggressive bargains. The "environment will remain
as competitive" through the holiday season, Chief Executive
Officer Myron Ullman said.
In a sign of how hard retailers are pushing for sales this
holiday season, rival Kohl's Corp said Thursday that its
stores would be open around the clock between Dec. 20 and
Walgreen Co said a "meaningful" increase in
promotions had brought in more shoppers, helping the drugstore
chain post a 1.9 percent increase in comparable sales of general
Dollar General Corp on Thursday said its same-store
sales last quarter rose 4.4 percent, reflecting how much
customers are looking to save money.
Stein Mart Inc, an off-price chain that sells
clothes and home goods at deep discounts, was one of the few
retailers to report stronger-than-expected sales for November.
Fred's Inc, a general merchandise chain, said
comparable sales were unchanged, below expectations.
Rite Aid Corp said comparable sales of general
merchandise at its drugstores rose only 0.4 percent.
Sales were also flat at Cato Corp, a chain of
low-priced clothing. "We continue to expect that the remainder
of the holiday shopping season and fourth quarter will be
difficult," said CEO John Cato.
Teen retailer The Buckle reported a 0.6 percent
decline in same-store sales.
On Wednesday, Aeropostale Inc forecast a much
bigger-than-expected loss for the holiday quarter and said it
expected the "heavily promotional environment in the teen retail
sector to continue."