In a trend that will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the year, U.S. retail chains posted better than expected same-store sales increases in January. Thomson Reuters, which surveyed results from 20 retailers, reports that same-store sales rose 5 percent for the month, above the 3.1 percent increase projected earlier. Individual outperformers included Macy's, Gap Inc., Costco, Target and Victoria's Secret, among others.
A Bloomberg report cited several reasons for the boost in same-store sales:
Analysts said a number of factors gave January an artificial boost: Unusually cold weather mid-month in big parts of the country helped clear out winter merchandise, and a long weekend before New Year's Day helped. January is also a low-volume month, so the numbers are less important than, say, those for November and December.
ICSC, which tracked 22 retailers, also reported a strong January, with a 4.5 percent increase in same-store sales, representing the highest jump in sales since September 2011. Department stores posted by far the best results, with same-store sales growth of 11.4 percent. The next best performing sector was specialty apparel, with growth of 6.7 percent.