Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: February sales strong despite snow

March 4, 2010

Check out the return of the shopper.  Even at Abercrombie & Fitch.

snowSeveral U.S. retailers showed off strong sales gains — albeit over an ugly February 2009 — despite the winter storms that bashed the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and other parts of the United States.

It’s too early to declare a major rebound yet, analysts said, but the sales gains signal that consumers are heading back to stores for more than just the essentials these days.

“We are not in full recovery mode, in my opinion, nor is the weak economy over,” said Hexagon Securities Managing Director Doug Conn. “But we are definitely starting to climb out of the hole that we dug ourselves into in late 2008 through 2009 … We have a lot further to go to get back to a healthy economy.”

The Thomson Reuters same-store-sales index rose 4 percent in February, topping expectations of a 2.9 percent increase and a year-earlier drop of 4.7 percent.  It was the best February since 2005, when same-store sales rose 5.7 percent. Check out this

“Counter to what you are seeing from a consumer confidence reading perspective … I think people are feeling generally a little bit better about things and as a consequence are starting to open up their wallets,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

The biggest surprise jump in sales came at Abercrombie & Fitch, which finally started discounting a few months ago after seeing competitors attract teens with their deals.

“It looks like the laggard of the group, Abercrombie & Fitch, is finally starting to catch up with everybody,” Conn said.

And, even though it no longer reports monthly same-store sales, Wal-Mart managed to be in the news on Thursday, announcing a dividend increase.

Also in the basket:

Wendy’s/Arby’s outlook misses view, shares down

Urban Outfitters tops expectations — again

Ahold shows resilience with cash return, shares jump

Zale puts 12 leases on New York City stores up for sale

(Reuters photo)

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