* Costco same-store sales up 9 pct, analysts' view 6.5 pct
* Limited same-store sales up 3 pct, Street view 4.5 pct
* Wet Seal sees loss at or near low end after sales drop
By Jessica Wohl
Jan 3 Costco Wholesale Corp had a
strong run-up to Christmas, but other chains posted
disappointing December sales on Thursday, as the economy took a
toll on shoppers in the most important quarter of the year for
Among the chains reporting December sales at stores open at
least a year, Costco stood out early with growth that topped
expectations. Limited Brands Inc's sales rose less than
anticipated, marking a rare miss for the owner of the Victoria's
Wet Seal Inc's sales fell even more than analysts
expected, leading it to expect a fourth-quarter loss at or near
the bottom of its prior forecast.
Overall, analysts looked for 3.3 percent same-store sales
growth for December across 17 chains, down from 4.2 percent
growth in December 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Same-store sales rose a disappointing 1.6 percent in
November. In December 2008, same-store sales fell 3 percent,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The holiday season was never expected to be stellar, but
even the single-digit growth anticipated by chains and analysts
came under pressure as Superstorm Sandy, the ever-present
headlines about the "fiscal cliff" and the Connecticut school
shootings affected consumers' moods.
Costco posted a 9 percent rise in December same-store sales,
topping estimates for a 6.5 percent increase, boosted by an
additional sales day in the reporting period. Higher fuel prices
and a weaker dollar also helped.
Excluding the effects of fuel sales and foreign exchange,
Costco posted an increase of 8 percent.
While Limited often tops expectations, in December its
same-store sales rose 3 percent versus expectations of a 4.5
Wet Seal, which caters to teens, said same-store sales fell
9.7 percent. Analysts predicted the chain would have the weakest
sales of any of the 17 chains reporting, but only anticipated a
5 percent decline.
Wet Seal now expects its fourth-quarter results to come in
at or near the bottom of its forecast of a loss of 3 cents to 6
cents per share.