Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: October sales — worst since 2000?

November 4, 2008

Check out the October monthly sales results due this week.

Think of an adjective for “bad” and that pretty much describes Wall Street analysts’ current view for how the month shaped up. 

Retail chains, like Wal-Mart, Costco and J.C. Penney, will release October results on Wednesday and Thursday, and Thomson Reuters is forecasting a decline of 0.1 percent. 

“If the index actually comes in at -0.1 percent, this would be the weakest same-store sales result ever registered since Thomson Reuters began collecting estimates in 2000,” Thomson Reuters said.

Department stores and specialty retailers are expected to be the worst hit, mitigated only slightly by shoppers seeking bargains at discount chains or drugstores. 

“Most Americans have been caught like deer in headlights, not knowing what financial or economic disaster is around the corner,” Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Thomas Filandro wrote in a note. “More and more consumers are broadly pulling back, leaving the retailer with little choice other than to promote.” 

One positive for retailers in October was gas prices. The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline, which was $3.63 at the end of September, fell to $2.65 by the end of October, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Also in the basket:

ADM profit soars on higher prices; shares jump (Reuters)

InBev’s Budweiser purchase resolve put to the test (Reuters)

Madison Avenue Takes Hit From Economic Troubles (WWD, subscription required)

(Photo: Reuters)

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