July Sales Up, But Results Mixed

July sales beat forecasts, according to market-research firm Retail Metrics.

Ken Perkins, president of the Boston-area Retail Metrics, said that U.S. retail sales increased 4.8 percent in July, which beat a consensus forecast of 3.9 percent. However, Perkins said sales results for many businesses remained mixed in the month before Back-to-School sales start in earnest.

The group of retailers followed by Retail Metrics includes warehouse clubs such as Costco Wholesale Corp., which turned in a 6.2 percent gain in July. Zumiez Inc. turned in the best results for apparel retailers reporting monthly sales. Its July same-store sales increased 5.1 percent. Zumiez reported net sales of $67.5 million.

L Brands Inc.—the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, Henri Bendel and Bath & Body Works—posted a 7 percent decline in same-store sales. A company statement blamed Victoria’s Secret’s exit from the swim category among others as a reason why same-store sales were negative. The Buckle Inc., a Kearny, Neb.–based denim-focused retailer, posted a decline of 8.4 percent in same-store sales.

The Cato Corp. also posted a same-store-sales decline of 8 percent. John Cato, the chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the Charlotte, N.C.–based retailer will release second-quarter results on Aug. 17, but he signaled that business will remain tough.

“Our negative sales trends persisted in July and the decline in sales continues to put severe pressure on merchandise margins and profitability,” Cato said. “We expect a loss for the second quarter and full-year earnings to be significantly below last year.”

Business was good for Irvine, Calif.–headquartered Boot Barn Holdings Inc. The Western and workwear retailer reported that same-store sales increased 1.3 percent for its first quarter of its fiscal year. The results were reported on Aug. 1. Net sales increased 4.5 percent to $139.4 million. For the upcoming fiscal year, Boot Barn intends to open 12 new stores.