(Filed Under Financial and General Interest News). Following an improved holiday shopping season in December 2009, most U.S. retailers began the New Year with robust comparable store sales. Thomas Reuters reported that January 2010 same-store sales rose 3.3 percent based on 29 retailers’ results, the best the industry has seen since April 2008 and higher than the 2.5 percent analysts expected. January is the final month of the holiday quarter, and accounts for the smallest portion of its sales.
Of note was Limited Brands’ increase of 6 percent, driven by a 17 percent increase in comparable store sales at Victoria’s Secret. The company attributed this growth to it moving the Victoria’s Secret semi-annual sale to the first week of January from the last week in December, as well as to the success of its new Miraculous Bra, which is designed to up a woman’s bust by two cup sizes. Other best-sellers were the Body by Victoria bra line and lacy panties. At La Senza, the company’s Canadian lingerie chain, comparable store sales were flat, however, lingerie sales increased five percent, which the company attributed to its younger positioning, with bright colors and “fun” prints.
The biggest surprise of the month came from Abercrombie & Fitch, which posted an 8 percent increase following several months of significant declines, with sales for the Abercrombie & Fitch chain up 12 percent, and Hollister sales up 5 percent. The company completed its closure of the Ruehl chain and direct-to-consumer business on January 30th. Also in the junior apparel sector, American Eagle Outfitters cited a 12 percent increase. However, not every retailer in this category was quite as successful; Hot Topic, Inc. and Wet Seal, Inc. cited a 13 percent and 3.7 percent drop, respectively.
Luxury retailers also continued to show improvement last month, with Nordstrom, Saks and Neiman Marcus posting 14 percent, 7 percent and 4.5 percent increases, respectively. Macy’s, Inc. attributed much of its 3.4 percent growth during the month to positive sales at its upper-tier chain, Bloomingdale’s. Online sales for Macys.com and Bloomingdales.com grew a combined 23.9 percent.
On the discount side, The TJX Cos. Inc, which owns the TJ Maxx and Marshall’s department store chains, cited a 12 percent increase, while Kohl’s sales grew 10.7 percent. J.C. Penney, however, posted a 4.6 percent decline. Target grew a slim 0.5 percent.
But despite these positive results, the industry shouldn’t get too excited just yet. Thomas Reuters warned that the upward momentum will be hard to maintain since consumers tend to watch their spending following the holiday season, and unemployment levels remain at 10 percent.
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