U.S. retailers including Costco Wholesale Corp. and L Brands Inc. posted November same-store sales that exceeded analysts’ estimates as early discounts prompted consumers to start spending for the holiday season.
Same-store sales for retailers tracked by Swampscott, Massachusetts-based Retail Metrics Inc. rose 4.3 percent last month, excluding results from drugstores. Analysts’ had estimated a 3 percent gain.
Retailers began offering holiday deals earlier than ever this year, while lower gas prices, declining unemployment and consumer confidence at the highest level since the recession helped drive shoppers to spend more. The discounts early in the month may explain why sales in the days following Thanksgiving were weaker than some analysts’ had estimated.
“November was OK — certainly retailers were promotional in November, and that probably contributed to it,” Ed Yruma, a New York-based analyst at Keybanc Capital Markets Inc., said in an interview. “The week before Black Friday we saw retailers begin to pull promotions forward. We saw generally soft results for the weekend and that’s because they pulled some of those sales forward.”
L Brands, which owns the Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works brands, said in a statement that comparable-store sales rose 8 percent last month, exceeding the estimate for a 4.1 percent increase. Shares of the Columbus, Ohio-based company rose 0.4 percent to $82.50 at 10:52 a.m. in New York.
Warehouse club Costco also topped estimates, posting a 9 percent sales increase in sales excluding fuel, compared with a forecast for a 5.7 percent gain. The shares fell 0.3 percent to $142.33.
Most chains tally same-store sales using locations open at least a year, making the figure a closely watched gauge of a retailer’s health because it tracks only established stores.
Gap Inc., the largest U.S. apparel-focused retailer, is expected to report comparable sales that declined 1.6 percent. The company will release results at the close of trading.
A stable job market may be putting money into more consumers’ pockets for the holiday season. Jobless claims decreased by 17,000 to 297,000 in the week ended Nov. 29 from 314,000 in the prior period, the Labor Department said today in Washington.
A Labor Department report tomorrow is projected to show payrolls climbed in November by more than 200,000 workers for a 10th consecutive month and the unemployment rate held at a six-year low.
Falling gasoline prices are also leaving consumers with more money in their wallets. The national average for regular Wednesday was $2.746, data compiled by Florida-based motoring club AAA show.
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