Retail Sales Push Year To Good Start

For U.S. retailers, 2018 started out on a positive note.

Same-store sales for January beat forecasts made by Boston-area market-research firm Retail Metrics Inc.

The group had predicted that same-store sales would be up 3.5 percent, but instead they rose 5.7 percent, said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics.

In January, L Brands Inc.—the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and Henri Bendel—posted its strongest performance in 25 months, Perkins wrote in a Feb. 8 note. It had a 7 percent same-store-sales increase, which beat forecasts of a 1.8 percent increase.

Mall-based action-sports retailer Zumiez Inc. also beat forecasts for January. Retail Metrics forecast that it would post a 1.9 percent increase in January same-store sales. However, the Seattle-area retailer posted a 6.3 percent increase in comps for January.

The Buckle Inc. also marked a good start to the year. It posted a same-store-sales increase of 0.2 percent. It was the first positive comps since mid-2015 for the denim-focused mall retailer, headquartered in Kearney, Neb.

Cato Corp., a value retailer headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., reported a same-store-sales decrease of 6 percent. However, total January sales for the retailer was $54.2 million compared to $45.5 million in January 2017.

The positive retail statistics for January is good news for an economy that recently was rattled by a stock market roller-coaster ride that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average decline 1,175 points on Feb. 5—one of the biggest one-day drops in the stock market’s history. The index came back and surged more than 500 points the next day.