Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: September surprise for retailers

October 8, 2009

shop1Check out the unexpected increase in September same-store sales at U.S. retailers.

Providing hope that demand may be improving ahead of the holiday shopping season, retailers posted a surprise 0.6 percent increase last month in stores open at least a year, instead of the 1.1 percent decline analysts had expected.

And International Council of Shopping Centers sees October same-store sales even with a year ago. TJX Cos, which operates the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains, cited strong momentum heading into October.

“The consumer is dipping their toe back into the discretionary waters right now, but just their toe,” said Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins.

Among the retailers posting better-than-expected results were Aeropostale, Kohl’s, Children’s Place and American Eagle Outfitters. Many others posted declines that were not as weak as expected.

While this year’s later Labor Day holiday pushed a good chunk of sales from August into September, analysts had wondered if rising unemployment would weigh more heavily on spending.  However, sales of clothing for the back-to-school season fueled many retailers’ performances, and the number of U.S. workers filing jobless claims fell more than expected last week.

But the economy is not out of the woods yet. Holiday spending could be further constrained by consumer aversion to debt, as total U.S. consumer credit posted a deeper-than-expected drop in August, suggesting consumers are opting to cut debt rather than spend.

Also in the basket:

Liz Claiborne in exclusive deal with J.C. Penney

PepsiCo profit tops expectations

Barnes & Noble sees same-store sales decline

Marriott beats estimates on summer demand

(Reuters photo)


The recession kicked into full throttle in September 08. Now a recovery is starting, and people are surprised sales are up? I’ve been looking forward to this news for about 3 months now.


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