All of the apparel retailers still reporting monthly comparable store sales posted increases in May

All of the apparel retailers still reporting monthly comparable store sales posted increases in May

May proved a positive month for the handful of US apparel retailers still reporting their monthly comparable sales as all booked an increase in same-store sales, with two reporting surprise upticks.

According to research firm Retail Metrics, May same-store sales came in better than expected rising 7.4% against a positive economic backdrop.

This compares to expectations of a 7.1% gain and is up from 2.7% a year ago. April saw a 9.7% increase, while March saw an 8.1% gain.

Retail Metrics president Ken Perkins said Mother Nature finally bestowed above average temperatures on most of the US in May following a particularly cool later winter/early spring. This led to a notable uptick in traffic across store checks throughout the month.

Winners and losers

All of the apparel retailers still reporting monthly comparable store sales posted increases in May, with one escaping its 34th monthly comp store sales decline in the last 35 months.

This was Nebraska-based denim specialist The Buckle, which reported a surprise uptick as opposed to the 1.7% decline forecast by Retail Metrics. The company has not turned in a positive monthly same store sales increase in the last 33 months registering a flat comp just once during that time frame. But the company defied the odds, booking a 3.6% rise in comparable store net sales for the four weeks ended 2 June. Net sales were also up, increasing 1.2% to US$62.2m from $61.5m last year.

Meanwhile, value-priced fashion and accessories retailer Cato Corporation surpassed analyst expectations for a 5% increase in same-store sales, reporting a 9% jump for the four-week period ended 3 June. Net sales climbed 4% to reach $77.3m.

CEO John Cato said: "May same-store stores significantly exceeded our expectations. We attribute a portion of the increase to pent-up demand from the first quarter as the weather improved throughout May."

L Brands, owner of the Victoria's Secret, Pink and La Senza brands, turned in a better than expected 5% rise in May same-store sales, compared to Retail Metrics' 1.7% consensus estimate. The gain, which was L Brands largest since a 7% rise in January, marked the fifth positive monthly comp in the last six months for the Columbus-based retailer. Net sales increased 10% to $851.9m, compared to net sales of $774.3m last year.  

Speciality apparel and footwear retailer Zumiez, meanwhile, reported a 7.5% rise in comparable sales for the four-week period ended 2 June 2018 compared to a comparable sales increase of 3.3% for the four-week period ended 27 May 2017. The increase beat Retail Metrics forecast of a 3.8% gain. Total net sales increased 12.2% to $59.7m.