US retailers had a more positive month in June

US retailers had a more positive month in June

June proved to be a more positive month for the few US apparel retailers who still report their monthly sales, thanks to better weather conditions and the Memorial Day holiday shift.

Analysts at research firm Retail Metrics suggested comparable store sales for the US retail sector as a whole rose 2% during the month. This was lower than expected, but marked an improvement from May's 0.5% year-on-year decline.

Winners and losers

All but one of the apparel retailers still reporting monthly comparable store sales posted declines in June, while the only company in positive territory reported a mid single-digit gain.

The Buckle fared the worst with a 10.6% decline, marking its fourth straight double-digit decline and fifth in the last six months. 

For Gap Inc, comparable store sales rose 2% in June, marking an end to the company's long run of monthly comparable store sales declines. Banana Republic posted a 4% drop in comparable sales, Old Navy revealed a 5% increase, while Gap was down 1% year-on-year. 

"We are pleased to see better performance across the portfolio this month, partly driven by an improvement in June traffic trends, particularly at Old Navy," said Sabrina Simmons, chief financial officer, Gap Inc.

Cato Corporation said its June sales were well below expectations, falling 8%, while comparable sales at Zumiez dropped 4.5%, representing the retailer's best monthly same store sales performance in a year and the 15th consecutive monthly sales decline. 

Meanwhile, L Brands saw the month's strongest performance, turning in a 7% comparable store sales rise and racking up its biggest comp gain since December. The company received a 200 basis point boost from the Memorial Day holiday shift into June this year from May last year. 

June sales overview

Denim specialist The Buckle saw comparable store sales tumble 10.6% year-on-year in the five weeks to 2 July, its 12th consecutive monthly same store sales drop. The retailer, which operates 467 retail stores, saw net sales decline 10.1% to $78.3m from $87.1m a year earlier.

Value-priced fashion and accessories retailer The Cato Corporation saw its sales slip 6% to $88m in June, down from $93.8m last year. Same-store sales decreased 8% for the month. The retailer operates 1,355 stores under the Cato, Versona and It's Fashion formats.

At action sportswear and footwear retailer Zumiez, which operates 663 Zumiez and Blue Tomato formats, total net sales for June were down 0.6% to $66.6m from $67m the year before.

For L Brands, owner of the Victoria's Secret, Pink and La Senza brands, net sales increased 7% to $1.3bn for the five weeks to 2 July, beating expectations. Victoria's Secret same store sales rose 6%.

And San Francisco-based Gap Inc, which operates more than 3,300 stores, said net sales were up 2% to $1.57bn from $1.54bn a year ago.