(Corrects deadline date for debt ceiling to be raised to Oct.
17 from Oct. 15)
By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK Oct 10 U.S. shoppers continued to show
caution in their spending in September, gravitating toward
bargains, as political strife in Washington and slow job growth
hurt their confidence with the start of the holiday season just
L Brands Inc on Thursday reported sales at stores
open at least a year rose 1 percent in September, missing Wall
Street estimates of a 2 percent gain. The company had soft
business at its Victoria's Secret chain, where it had to offer
deeper promotions than it had expected.
Zumiez Inc, The Buckle Inc and American
Apparel Inc all said same-store sales declined last
month, continuing a tough stretch for stores that cater to
A group of nine retailers were expected to report a 3.1
percent rise in September same-store sales, compared to a 5.5
percent gain last year, according to Thomson Reuters.
Gap Inc will report after U.S. markets close.
Shoppers did spend where they found deals.
On Wednesday, warehouse chain Costco Wholesale Corp
reported U.S. same-store sales that beat Wall Street
expectation, as consumer sought out its less expensive
merchandise and gasoline.
Fred's Inc, a discount general merchandise chain,
reported better-than-expected sales, and Stein Mart Inc
, which sells fashions at big discounts compared to
department stores, reported a 5 percent increase.
Over the summer, many shoppers shifted spending to items
like cars and homes and away from clothes, hurting retailers
that have a heavy presence in malls.
J.C. Penney Co Inc, which this week reported a 4
percent drop in comparable sales for September but is not part
of the index, said traffic trends were better at its off-mall
Consumer confidence decreased in September on concerns about
the short-term outlook for jobs and whether the slight
improvement in the economy could keep its momentum, according to
the U.S. Conference Board.
In September, consumers were also worried about the prospect
of a partial U.S. government shutdown, which began on Oct. 1.
U.S. business leaders are concerned about the impact that
the political deadlock in Washington could have, especially with
the holiday season looming. If the U.S. debt ceiling is not
raised by an Oct. 17 deadline, the United States could default
on some debt.
"If and when there's a default, we will feel that," Macy's
Inc Chief Executive Terry Lundgren told journalists at a
conference in New York last week.
Last week, Rite Aid Corp reported comparable sales
of general merchandise fell 0.5 percent, while at Walgreen Co
they rose 2.9 percent. Both chains get the bulk of their
revenue from drug prescriptions.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Jeffrey