• Just Style

US apparel retailers' May 2017 sales roundup

May proved to be another difficult month for the handful of US apparel retailers still reporting their monthly comparable sales figures, with all but one recording a decline.

According to research firm Retail Metrics, May same-store sales increased 3% for monthly reporters, compared to a 0.7% fall in the same month last year and a 2.3% rise in April.

However, Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins admits it was a "tough" first-quarter earnings season.

Based on reports from 92 retailers, first-quarter same-store sales were up just 16 basis points earlier this week, representing a tie for the worst quarter same-store sales growth since the Great Recession.

Winners and losers

All but one of the apparel retailers still reporting monthly comparable store sales posted declines in May, with one booking its 23rd consecutive decline.

Denim specialist The Buckle posted a 9% comp store sales decline that missed Retail Metrics consensus estimate of -8.8% by just 20 basis points. This represented the Nebraska-based chain's 23rd straight negative monthly comp and marked a significant sequential deterioration from an Easter aided April comp of -3.5%. It was, however, the smallest monthly comp decline since August 2015. The Buckle, which operates 462 retail stores, also booked a decline in net sales, which fell 8.8% to US$61.5m for the four weeks ended 27 May from $67.4m in the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, comparable store sales for value-priced fashion and accessories retailer Cato Corporation continued on their negative trend in May. The retailer experienced a sharp 16% deterioration in comps from April's 2% decline, marking the sixth double-digit decline in the last seven months. Net sales for the month also declined, slipping 15% to $74.2m from $87.4m in the same period last year.

CEO John Cato said: "Our negative sales trends persisted throughout May as we continued to work through our merchandise assortment missteps."

L Brands, owner of the Victoria's Secret, Pink and La Senza brands, turned in a slightly better than expected 7% comparable store sales decline for May. This represented a 200 basis point sequential drop from the speciality apparel chain's 5% April comp decline. Net sales were down 5% to $774.3m for the four weeks ended 28 May. The company noted the exit of both the swim and apparel businesses had a negative 10 percentage point impact on total company May same-store sales.

June comps are planned to be down mid-to-high single digits for the month with exited swim and apparel categories adversely impacting June results by 700 bp.

Speciality apparel and footwear retailer Zumiez, meanwhile, turned in another increase in comparable store sales, albeit smaller than last month's 7.8% increase. For the four weeks to 27 May, the company's comparable sales increased 3.3%, compared to a comparable sales decrease of 7.6% for the year-ago period. Total sales also increased, up 6.5% to $53.2m, compared to $50m in the year-ago period. The company operates 690 stores across the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.

San Francisco-based Gap Inc, which operates around 3,300 company-operated stores and 450 franchise stores, has confirmed to just-style it is "moving away from monthly sales reporting."

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