The various numbers are in. Retail Forward, ICSC and Retail Metrics have all crunched the numbers. The verdict: Retailers posted year over year same-store sales gains in September.
According to Retail Forward the 32 retailers it tracks posted a collective 0.8 percent gain. (Retail Forward's list can be viewed here.) Frank Badillo, Senior Economist at Retail Forward concluded that, "September's numbers are a good sign that retail sales are on a path to recovery. But it will be a slow, bumpy road as shoppers are cautious about easing the grip on their spending plans. It will take more time for sales declines to turn into gains for all retailers and not all of them will benefit equally."
ICSC's index of 31 retailers showed a smaller increase (membership req'd) of 0.1 percent. According to ICSC's report:
Small as that gain was, it was the first year-over-year increase since July 2008 (+3.3%) and marked a significant psychological turning point for the industry performance, as well as the start of the retail recovery. September's sales were largely better than expected.
Industry-wide, ICSC previously estimated that the impact on the entire industry's sales pace from the later Labor Day was likely to boost year-over-year sales by about 25 basis, but now figure it was probably worth as much as three times that magnitude. Offsetting much of this positive back-to-school lift, however, was a drag on reported sales from lower gasoline prices at wholesale
Retail Metrics, meanwhile, said same-store sales comps rose 1.1 percent. Retail Metrics said the results were "primarily driven by an easy (-0.1%) year ago comparison, a later Labor Day holiday that siphoned sales out of August into September, better Fall fashions, and relatively high promotional levels."
Reuters has a rundown of the results with quotes from analysts here.