Retailers Post Solid Sales Growth in September

Looks like the retail sector continues its modest recovery. Industry data shows that September same-store sales were in line with analysts' expectations, though sales growth for the month was in no way spectacular.

According to ICSC, which calculates its results using data from 32 retailers, September same-store sales came in at 2.6 percent. This was on the lower end of expectations, which ran from 2.5 percent to 3.0 percent. ICSC attributed the modest growth to the unseasonably warm weather this September, which affected purchases of fall apparel. Also, lower drug prices at drug stores really affected performance in the drug store sector, which posted an increase of only 0.1 percent.

On the other hand, department stores and luxury stores had a better than average month. Same-store sales at department stores rose 4.7 percent, with Nordstrom and J.C. Penney posting the biggest increases. Sales at luxury stores rose 6.6 percent, perhaps another indication that affluent shoppers are coming back.

While ICSC estimates overall September same-store sales growth at 2.6 percent, Kantar Retail puts the number slightly higher, at 2.8 percent. (Kantar bases its estimates on results from 31 retail chains). The firm attributes September's healthy growth to the residual effects of the back-to-school shopping season. On the whole, American consumers continue to be careful spenders, according to Frank Badillo, Kantar's senior economist.

“The results suggest that outside of healthy back-to-school spending, shoppers otherwise continue to moderate their spending from a surge in the spring. This moderation should continue into the holidays,” said Frank Badillo, Senior Economist.

Finally, Retail Metrics Inc. estimates September's same-store sales growth at 2.7 percent. The firm attributes the growth to a strong back-to-school season, coupled with attractive fall fashions and heavy discounts. In fact, sales appeared to be stronger in the first half of the month, while back-to-school shopping was still in progress, and trailed off slightly in the second half.

A later and stronger than expected Back-to-School selling season coupled with attractive fall fashions, aggressive promotions and a near record September stock market rise propelled an impressive upside same store sales surprise. Our Retail Metrics SSS Index racked up a robust 2.7% gain on top of it's first positive YOY monthly comp in a year. Sales were stronger in the first half of the month and tailed off a bit late in the month.

Retail Metrics expects to see lower sales growth in October.

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