As the global slowdown continues its relentless march stalking jobs and busineses on both sides of the Atlantic alike, the retail business is far from out of the woods, despite Wal-Mart's stellar performance.
Retail's ongoing troubles reflect the continuing slide in consumer confidence, which has set a new record low each of the past three months, and the steep drops in spending.
The weak trend in sales of department-store chains continued in February.
The biggest drop was reported by Saks Inc, which saw sales plunge 26 per cent year-over-year in February. The company, which operates a Saks Fifth Avenue store at Raleigh's Triangle Town Center mall and a Saks Off 5th in Morrisville, blamed the sales drop on continued weakness across all merchandise categories, especially in women's apparel.
Macy's Inc posted weaker-than-expected results with drops of 8.5 per
American Eagle Outfitters Inc same-store sales fell 7 per cent in February, which is better than Wall Street analysts predictions of 13.4 per cent. For the four weeks ended 28 February, the teen clothing retailer reported total sales of $177.2 million, compared to $175.1 million for the same period a year ago.
JC Penney posted a 8.8-per cent decline as its Story Tools
total sales fell 7.2 per cent to $1.17 billion from $1.26 billion in the same month last year.
Gap Inc's same-store sales fell 12 per cent, beating analyst estimates of a 15.5 per cent decline. Dillard's Inc' sales dropped 13 per cent, while Kohl's Inc reported a dip of 1.6 per cent and Nordstrom Inc reported a decline of 15.4 per cent.
Limited Brands, which owns Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and The White Barn Candle Co., met analysts' expectations with a 7 per cent drop in same-store sales.
Nevertheless, a few of them did beat analysts' estimates.
Target said its net retail sales for the four weeks of February were $4.373 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2008. However, Target's same-store sales declined 4.1 per cent.
''February sales were in line with our planned range for the month, as our sales results continue to reflect the significant economic challenges facing our guests,'' Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO of Target, said.
Buckle Inc again remained far above its peers, reporting a 21 per cent jump, widely beating analysts' expectations for a 9 per cent gain. The company has posted double-digit growth in same-store sales for 19 straight months.
Hot Topic Inc beat analysts' views by a wide margin, posting an 11 per cent increase in same-store sales. Even Wet Seal Inc which posted drops of 6.6, handily beat estimates.