NEW YORK–While same-store sales at the major U.S. retail chains were mostly up in December, not all of the stores enjoyed a healthy holiday season.
Some of the retailers admitted that their gains were below expectations. Target’s 1.6 percent increase did not meet the company’s projections for December, according to Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO, who added that sales were soft in gift categories such as electronics, music, movies and books. Kevin Mansell, chairman, president and CEO of Kohl’s, said the department store’s 0.1 percent same-store drop, which he attributed to sluggish sales in cold-weather product categories, was “short of our expectations, although much improved over November’s results (down 6.2 percent).”
On the brighter side, TJX’s retail chains finished December with an 8 percent comp-store gain, “significantly” ahead of its expectations, said CEO Carol Meyrowitz. Macy’s 6.2 percent increase puts the company “solidly on track to exceed our expectations for same-store sales in the fourth quarter,” said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO.
Looking at the other chains, Pier 1 Imports reported a huge 11.3 percent increase for December, driven by higher traffic and average ticket. Costco’s U.S. comparable-store sales rose 6 percent, factoring out gasoline sales, and 7 percent including gas. Dillard’s December saw a 4 percent gain in same-store sales, while J.C. Penney’s comp-store number edged up 0.3 percent.
In a note focusing on December at U.S. retail, Brad Thomas, analyst with Keybanc Capital Markets, said the home furnishings, furniture, home improvement, rent-to-own and pets categories outperformed other product sectors. There was improvement also in consumers’ willingness and ability to spend as non-farm payrolls increased, Thomas said.