Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: The hurt is spreading

June 4, 2009

TARGET/Check out the latest sales reports, which show that consumers are still cutting back on discretionary spending as they shift to discounters for the basics.  Granted, that’s not exactly news anymore, but some of this morning’s sales tell us that even the discounters are starting to feel the heat.

“Sales for the month of May were somewhat below our expectations,” chief executive officer of Target, Greg Steinhafel, said in a statement.

He’s not alone.

Big boxers such as Target and BJ’s Wholesale reported steeper than expected drops in same-store sales, suggesting that the recession may have depended further than the luxury market.

Speaking of which, upscale department stores, such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, saw sales slip while Macy’s fared slightly better than analysts had expected.  Abercrombie & Fitch, known for their strong hold on the younger markets saw same-store sales slide 28 percent, worse than the decline analysts had expected.  And teen/tween sensation Hot Topic, saw same-store sales fall 6.4 percent which were, again, steeper than analysts had predicted.

There were some bright spots, though: if you ignore gasoline sales, Costco Wholesale saw same-store sales rise one percent, and BJ’s Wholesale rose 4 percent.  And for apparel, Buckle Inc’s more casual teen market shopped the company’s same-store sales up 13.4 percent.

Even TJX, owner of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s among others, saw higher customer traffic translate into company gains even in the face of fluctuating international exchange rates.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to note that Wal-Mart ceased to report monthly sales as of April, giving some investors headaches, and others a chance to focus on smaller company’s sales data.

Also in the basket:

Signet profit up; Harry Winston beats view

L’Oreal sees 2009 market flat to slightly growing

(Reuters photo)

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