February Sales Mixed

Retail

As of Thursday, March 3, 2016

L Brands—the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, and Henri Bendel—reported a strong February. Its same-store sales increased 5 percent compared with the previous year. In a March 3 research note, Adrienne Yih Tennant of Wolf Research wrote that L Brands was leading the retail pack.

“LB continues to deliver on all fronts,” she said. “With retailers generally under pressure, LB has clearly proven its dominance in its key categories.”

The Buckle, a Nebraska-headquartered retailer for denim brands and on-trend apparel for men and women, posted a same-store-sales decline of 8.9 percent. San Francisco–based retail giant Gap Inc. posted a 2 percent same-store-sales decline. The result was in line with the analyst consensus found by Ken Perkins of Boston-area market-research company Retail Metrics.

In a March 3 note, he wrote that Old Navy and Gap Global posted flat comps, which beat forecasts. Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic division posted comps that showed a decline of 11 percent.

February was tough for other retailers. Colorado-headquartered Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 2. Michael E. Foss, Sports Authority’s chief executive officer, said that the company plans to close 140 stores and two distribution centers.

The Consumer Confidence Index declined in February after a moderate increase in January, according to a Feb. 23 statement from Lynn Franco of The Conference Board, a nonprofit research organization.

“Consumers’ short-term outlook grew more pessimistic, with consumers expressing greater apprehension about business conditions, their personal financial situation, and, to a lesser degree, labor-market prospects,” Franco said. “Continued turmoil in the financial markets may be rattling consumers, but their assessment of current conditions suggests the economy will continue to expand at a moderate pace in the near term.”

But the U.S. economy showed a lot of positives, said Retail Metrics’ Perkins. “Gas prices remained low, housing data was positive, and key labor market indicators were generally upbeat,” he wrote.

Zumiez Inc. and Stein Mart Inc. are typically included in California Apparel News’ retail sales index, but news on those companies’ February sales results was not found. Both retailers will report results for their fourth fiscal quarters on March 10.