July Retail Sales Up

The back-to-school season started on a robust note in July and beat analysts’ forecasts, according to market research company Retail Metrics.

Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, had predicted that same-store sales for U.S. retailers would increase 6.8 percent. Instead, July comps rose 7.5 percent. Perkins gave credit to a good economy for thriving business in July.

“Macro conditions remain very favorable for consumers,” he wrote in an Aug. 9 note. More people were working in July. An already low May U.S. unemployment rate of 4.0 percent dipped to 3.9 percent in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Action-sports mall retailer Zumiez Inc. reported one of its month’s best performances. The Seattle-area company came in with net sales of $83 million and a 9.1 increase in same-store sales in July. The retailer raised its forecast for its 2018 second quarter to be $0.13 or $0.14 per share compared with a previous guidance of between $0.04 and $0.09.

Denim-focused mall retailer The Buckle Inc. rallied from a 1.2 percent decline in same-store sales in June to report a 2.3 percent increase in comps for July. Value retailer The Cato Corp. reported an uptick of 1 percent in same-store sales for July.

L Brands Inc., the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, reported net sales of $849.7 million in July; however, its same-store sales were flat compared to the same period the previous year.

Boot Barn Inc., an Irvine, Calif.–headquartered retailer of Westernwear, also reported brisk business for its first quarter of fiscal 2019. For the quarter ending June 30, same-store sales jumped 11.6 percent. The retailer’s net sales increased 16.2 percent to $162 million. Jim Conroy, Boot Barn’s chief executive officer, said the retailer beat its forecasts.

“We are encouraged by our very strong start to fiscal 2019 as sales, merchandise margin and earnings per share were up significantly year-over-year,” Conroy said in a statement. Boot Barn runs a fleet of 232 stores and the e-commerce site