Retailers Post Same-Store Sales Gains in January

After a home run in December, retailers had another strong month in January. ICSC, Retail Forward, Retail Metrics and RetailSails have all crunched the numbers from the publicly-traded retailers that report same-stores sales and the figures show that the post-holiday shopping period went well for most firms.

Retail Forward, Retail Metrics and RetailSails concluded that same-store sales jumped 3.3 percent in the month while ICSC's figures showed a 3.0 percent improvement. The numbers were slightly better than December's result and made January the best month for retailers since July 2008 or April 2008, depending on whose numbers you look at.

ICSC's tally shows that same-store sales rose 3.0 percent in January, the fourth time in five months that ICSC's index has risen. The result was a slight increase from the 2.8 percent rise in December. ICSC expects retailers to post about a 2 percent gain in February.

ICSC's numbers are based on 31 retailers. In the commentary in its monthly report, ICSC said:

Despite lean clearance inventory in January that held back sales and in the face of some adverse regional weather, industry sales posted an impressive gain in January. Easy comparisons with the aggregate decline of 4.8% for January 2009 helped to lift the January 2010 performanceespecially for the apparel and luxury department store segments. Noteworthy for January's performance was the apparel‐chain‐store segment which had an aggregate comp‐store gain of 6.4% (vs. ‐14.0% in

January 2009), which also marked the strongest monthly gain for that segment since March 2007 (+7.0% y/y). Some price inflation for food and gasoline relative to the prior year helped to inflate wholesale‐clubs sales (up 8.0%) in January 2010.

Here are ICSC's results going back to 1993.

(Click for larger image.)

ICSC Jan 2010

According to Retail Forward, sales-weighted same-store sales excluding Walmart increased 3.3 percent in January for the 32 retailers that reported numbers. (A pdf with each retailer's results can be downloaded here.) Frank Badillo, senior economist at Retail Forward, said in a statement, The modest pickup in retail spending is persisting despite challenges ranging from income constraints to bad weather. The recovery should continue on an uneven path as shoppers slowly resume spending that was postponed or reduced during the recession as a precaution.

Retail Metrics, meanwhile, reported that same-store sales increased 3.3 percent. That bested the 3.0 percent gain the firm measured in December and is the largest same-store sales gain that the firm has measured since April 2008. Retail Metrics' numbers include 30 retailers. Of those, 18 posted gains, one had flat sales and 11 posted same-store sales declines. In addition, 73 percent of retailers beat Retail Metrics' expected sales numbers.

According to the firm's monthly report:

While January is NOT a particularly important month in terms of sales volume, retailers nonetheless posted a better than expected Jan comp gain of 3.3% despite limited clearance levels and several adverse storms during the month. Strength was across virtually all segments with department stores, teen & specialty apparel, and discounters all beating or meeting expectations.

RetailSails reached the same conclusion as RetailMetrics and says same-store sales rose 3.3 percent in January. The blog's figures include numbers from 32 different retailers.

While typically the lightest month of the year in terms of volume, and no doubt in large part due to extremely easy comparisons to a year ago, January's strong performance nonetheless suggests retailers might have finally turned the corner. Preliminary results show total sales increased 5.6% from a year ago to $26.6 billion for the 32 retailers we track, while same-store sales were up 3.3%. This is the fifth straight gain after 12 consecutive months of declines, and the best showing since April 2008.

Here's one chart from the post, but there are more here.

(Click for larger image.)


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