US retailers experience rocky June sales
A number of US retailers have reported worse than expected June sales after experiencing rocky demand across the month.
Retailers including Kohl's, Macy's, Cato and Bon-Ton stores either recorded declines or results that came in below expectations.
Macy's attributed its worse-than-expected 1.2% same-store sales increase to the stagnant macroeconomic environment combined with lower tourist spending in cities like New York.
But, for many, the month was an inconsistent one, with sales gains around Father's Day followed by weakening sales as bad weather hit later in the month.
"June sales were uneven throughout the month," said Bon-Ton Stores president and CEO Brendan Hoffman as the retailer recorded a 0.8% decline in comparable store sales.
"During the Father's Day promotional period, customers responded favourably when we strengthened our marketing with emphasis on value, which also improved the ease of our customers' shopping experience.
"We were disappointed, however, with sales at the end of the month, which we believe were negatively affected by the timing of the July 4th holiday and the severe storms in some of our markets."
Indeed, Stein Mart also highlighted the impact of the weather as it posted a 0.5% decline in comparable store sales.
"The weather distractions we endured during June in Florida and many of our other markets challenged our business," said interim CEO Jay Stein. "We are never satisfied with simply flat sales but given these disruptions we are not uncomfortable with our results," he added.
Cato Corp chairman president and CEO John Cato emphasised the volatility in consumer spending, saying it has been driven "in part by various economic and political uncertainties as well as unseasonable weather".
With the US continuing to experience sluggish consumer confidence, those servicing the value end of the spectrum recorded gains. Off-price retailers TJX and Ross Stores both said they recorded continued sales growth across the month.
Reporting 7% comparable store sales growth, TJX Companies said its results "significantly exceeded expectations".
Company CEO Carol Meyrowitz attributed the gains to the "tremendous appeal of our values, brands and fashions for consumers", adding that all of its divisions across the US, Canada and Europe recorded "excellent results".
Ross Stores, which also recorded 7% comparable sales growth, said its success was due to its "ongoing ability to deliver terrific brand name bargains to today's value-focused shoppers," according to vice chairman and CEO Michael Balmuth.
With the key back-to-school shopping season set to begin later this month, Michael Niemira, vice president and chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centres, said retailers will "continue to deal with consumers' uncertainty in regards to the economy, but benefit from falling gasoline prices helping consumer budgets".
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