Retail sales on upward trajectory in June

Same-store sales at apparel retailers continued on an upward trajectory last month. June results saw the biggest gains since January, on the back of an improving labor market, better macroeconomic conditions, falling fuel prices, warmer weather and rising house prices.

Same-store sales increased 4.1% last month, according to research firm Retail Metrics, exceeding expectations by 20% and marking the single biggest monthly comparable increase since January, when same-store sales grew 5.1%.

Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins said retailers have recorded same-store sale gains for two consecutive months, after missing expectations from February to April “when retailers faced not only an economic soft patch but particularly adverse weather conditions.”

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), meanwhile, reported a 3.9% year-on-year increase for same-store sales in June. Excluding drug stores, same-store sales jumped 5.3% it said — the strongest gain since August, according to ICSC vice president of research and chief economist, Michael Niemira.

“Overall, these data continue to paint an improving picture after a ‘softer’ first quarter (February-April) and are encouraging as we move into the second fiscal quarter of the year,” added Niemira.

Gap Inc came out as the biggest winner in June after posting a 7% increase in comparable store sales.

“We are pleased with our June sales results,” said chairman and CEO Glenn Murphy. “Old Navy’s performance was particularly strong.”

Discount retailer Stein Mart also delivered strong growth with a 6.5% comparable store sales rise, which “continues our strong sales trend”, CEO Jay Stein said.

The Florida-based chain said linens, women’s casual sportswear and women’s boutique posted the strongest sales for the month, while men’s sportswear, women’s accessories and women’s special sizes were weaker.

Action sportswear and footwear retailer Zumiez recorded a 14.5% increase in total sales to reach $58.8 million for the five weeks to July 6, up from $51.3 million the same period last year. Comparable store sales edged up 1% at the company, which operates 522 stores across the US, Canada and Europe.

At The Buckle, total sales increased 3.9% to $82.5 million, compared with $79.4 million in June last year. The Kearney, Nebraska-based company, which runs 445 stores across 43 states, posted a 3.4% rise in comparable store sales for the five weeks to July 7.

Discount retailer Stein Mart was “pleased” with its 2.6% rise in sales to reach $109 million in June, up from $106.3 million last year. Comparable store sales grew 6.5%. The company, which operates 262 stores, said sales were strongest in the Southeast, Texas, Florida and the Gulf States, while the Midwest, Northeast and California performed lower than the chain.

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