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L Brands bright spot in dull July for small band of US retailers

L Brands’ same-store sales climbed more than expected in July, and the Victoria’s Secret operator said it expects earnings for Q2 to come in at the high-end of its outlook range. However, the retail group also expects August same-store sales to be about flat with a year ago.

L Brands said total same-store sales rose 2% in July. The company previously warned that July comparable sales could be flat to down low single digits.

For the month, same-store sales at Victoria’s Secret were flat compared with last year, but rose 6% at Bath & Body Works. Strength in the Pink business and Victoria’s Secret core-lingerie was offset by softness in noncore areas such as swimwear and apparel.

Total sales at the company increased 4.5% to $2.89bn for Q2 with analysts expecting $2.85 billion. Same-store sales for the quarter rose 3%, and it expects adjusted per-share earnings for the period to come in at the high-end of its 50 cents to 60 cents range.

With Gap Inc not reporting its July comps sales unit Monday, elsewhere The Cato Corp reported last month’s total sales fell 8% to $61.2m. Same-store sales for the month were down 10%.

“July same-store sales were well below our expectations,” said CEO John Cato.

Sales for Q2 also fell 5% to $236.7m as comps slid 6% on the prior year.

The Buckle’s July comps fell 10.9% with net sales down 9.8% to $66.5m. Comps for Q2 fell 10.8% and net sales dipped 10.1% to $212.2m.

By contrast, fellow teen retailer Zumiez net sales increased a modest 1% to $61.9m but comps fell 2.9%, compared to a 7.6% in the year ago period. Q2 comps also fell 4.9%.

Fred’s total sales for the month fell 7% to $154m and comps declined 4.6% compared with an increase of 0.7% in the year-earlier period. Q2 total sales fell 3.4% to $527.7m and comps were down 2% versus an increase of 0.9% for the year-earlier period.


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