Department store results mixed in May

New York -- When Macy’s reported a 4.2% May same-store sales gain on Wednesday, ahead of the rest of the pack, analysts wondered whether that would set the tone for the rest of the department store players. It did — and it didn’t.

Macy’s outpaced the 4% gain predicted by Wall Street, citing online strength as a major reason for the strong performance, but Kohl’s saw a wider than expected drop in same-store sales. The department store retailer posted a 4.2% decrease in May, worse than analysts’ predicted 1.2% drop. According to CEO Kevin Mansell, the May results will likely set the tone for the upcoming quarter.

“May sales were lower than our expectations and, as a result, we now expect second quarter comparable store sales to be modestly negative,” he said. “We made some progress in building our inventory levels, but continue to expect lower units to hinder our sales until the Back-to-School season.”

Among other department store results:

  • Nordstrom reported a 5.3% increase in May same-store sales, beating the forecasted 4.7% rise;

  • Saks also beat Wall Street estimates, recording a 4% May increase despite the 2.5% projected rise;

  • Bon-Ton same-store sales rose 1.5% in May.

  • Neither J.C. Penney nor Sears Holdings report monthly sales.