* Wal-Mart same-store sales better than expected
* Luxury sector shows signs of weakness
* Wal-Mart shares up in pre-market trading
By Karen Jacobs
ATLANTA, Sept 4 U.S. discount retailers, led by
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), posted stronger-than-expected
August sales on Thursday as shoppers sought last-minute deals
on back-to-school items and other products.
The sales trends also benefited some specialty apparel
retailers, like Gap Inc (GPS.N), which managed to top
expectations in a weak U.S. economy. Stores catering to the
luxury market fared worse during the month.
"Clearly these retailers know that that's (back to school)
their big opportunity," said Sarah Henry, an analyst with MFC
Global Investment Management. "They are being really judicious
about what they are presenting."
Wal-Mart posted a 3 percent rise in same-store sales,
beating analysts' forecast of 1.6 percent, according to Thomson
The world's biggest retailer cited strong sales of
groceries, medicines and other household goods, and gave an
optimistic forecast for September, helped by back-to-school
"For Wal-Mart, the value message is really timely and is
resonating," Henry said.
Wal-Mart shares rose to $60.05 in pre-market trading from
Wednesday's close of $59.79.
Wal-Mart said shoppers were waiting until the end of the
back-to-school period to make their purchases, a trend that was
accelerated as more schools opened later in the year.
Among other retailers known for lower prices, Family Dollar
Stores FDO.N posted a 3.6 percent rise in same-store sales,
compared with expectations for a 3 percent increase. BJ's
Wholesale Club Inc BJ.N same-store sales rose 15.4 percent,
above forecasts for a 14.1 pct rise.
The luxury sector showed more signs of weakness, as Saks
SKS.N and Nordstrom (JWN.N) both posted worse-than-expected
Nordstrom sales fell 7.9 percent, worse than the 7.1
percent fall analysts expected, while Saks had a 5.9 percent
fall, compared with forecasts for a 4.7 percent dip.
"I would guess that they are not willing to sacrifice
margin as much," Henry said. "That segment is under pressure
right now and both of those companies are more exposed" to
financial market stress.
Among specialty retailers, Limited Brands LTD.N said
same-store sales fell 7 percent on weaker results at its
Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works stores.
Gap same-store sales fell 8 percent, better than a Wall
Street forecast for a 9.7 percent decline.
Kohl's Corp (KSS.N), which reported on Wednesday, posted a
5.8 percent decline for the month compared with expectations
for a 7.6 percent decline.
(Additional reporting by Martinne Geller and Aarthi Sivaraman
in New York and Ben Klayman in Chicago, editing by Dave