June Sales Strong

June sales beat forecasts, with International Council of Shopping Centers, a leading industry group based in New York, reporting that U.S. chain-store sales increased 3.9 percent in June compared with the same time in the previous year. The ICSC had forecasted June sales would only increase between 3 percent and 3.5 percent.

Michael Niemira, ICSC’s vice president of research and chief economist, said it was the most solid report since August 2012. “Overall, these data continue to paint an improving picture after a ‘softer’ first quarter [February to April] and are encouraging as we move into the second fiscal quarter of the year.”

Retail Metrics Inc., a Boston-area research company, reported retail sales increased 4.1 percent on its index. Ken Perkins, Retail Metrics’ president, said an improving labor market, falling gas prices and warmer temperatures led consumers to spend more.

Adrienne Tennant, a prominent Wall Street analyst, said business improved throughout the month. “Sales were choppy during weeks one through three,” she said, in a July 8 research note, of the month’s business. “But a late-June surge drove pent-up demand as hot weather spurred pre–July 4th sales.” Tennant works for Janney Capital Markets.

Specialty store The Buckle reported a same-store-sales increase of 3.4 percent in June. Stein Mart, a Jacksonville, Fla.–based retailer with prices competitive to off-pricers, posted a same-store increase of 6.5 percent. However, Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands Inc. reported flat sales, and Zumiez, a boardsports specialty retailer from Lynnwood, Wash., posted a 1 percent increase in June.

On July 11, Bebe Stores Inc. also announced results for retail sales for its fourth quarter, which ended July 6. Same-store sales declined 7.1 percent. Its net retail sales were $109.0 million, compared with $119 million in the same time in the previous fiscal year.