Mixed Sales News from US Retailers

13 May 2002

Early indications are that April sales at many US retailers failed to meet analysts’ forecasts, as an early Easter and poor weather combined to hold back growth.

Discount colossus Wal-Mart said sales (at stores open at the same period last year) increased 3.3% year-on-year in April, below predictions of 3.9%; while budget rival Target posted comparable-store sales growth of just 0.4%, well below forecasts of 4%.

There was more positive news from department store groups such as JC Penney and Kohl’s, which posted respective sales rises of 5.5% and 5.3%, marginally beating expectations. However, Federated (owner of Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s) saw a 5.9% drop in same-store sales, but raised earnings guidance due to margin improvements.

The index of comparable-store sales at seventy retailers compiled by Prudential Securities rose 1.9% for the month, matching expectations. For March and April combined, the index climbed 3.6%, well ahead of the 1.6% increase posted in the same months last year.

Declared Prudential analyst Wayne Hood: “It is clear we have reached the bottom, but the question is, how much can we accelerate off that bottom?”

Data sourced from: Financial Times; The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff