Discounters gain in August

New York City Discount retailers posted solid gains for August, helped by aggressive discounting as consumers continue to seek out bargains. Tax-free holidays in nearly 20 states also helped attract customers. Analysts also said the warmest August in more than a quarter of a century helped spur sales of late lingering summer clothing inventory.

“It's a glimmer of hope that the numbers are coming in ahead of low expectations," said Ken Perkins, president of research firm RetailMetrics, in an Associated Press report. "But it took retailers being heavily promotional to bring shoppers in.”

At Costco, same-store sales increased 7% in August, buoyed by higher gas prices and improved international revenue  Its results topped the 4.2% rise analysts expected, according to by Thomson Reuters.

The wholesale club operator reported a 6% rise in revenue at U.S. stores in same-store sales and an 11% increase in its overseas locations.

Costco’s fiscal fourth-quarter revenue climbed 8% to $23.6 billion, while revenue for the fiscal year improved 9% to $76.3 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected fourth-quarter revenue of $24.23 billion and fiscal-year revenue of $77.98 billion.

At Target Corp., sales of back-to-school items and food helped boost same-store sales 1.8% in August, just short of analysts’ predictions for a 2% increase. Food, health care and beauty items were the strongest sellers. Electronics and home decorations were weaker.

For the year to date, Target said same-store sales rose 2.2%, while total sales rose nearly 5% to $35.31 billion. Strongest results were in the upper Midwest, the Carolinas and Texas, while parts of the Northeast and Southwest, as well as Michigan and Ohio were weaker.

BJ’s Wholesale Club reported a 2.4% increase in August. Same-store sales rose 2.4%. Analysts, on average, had expected same-store sales to rise 3.3%.

Sales for the four weeks ended Aug. 28 rose 4.9% to $794.6 million. Excluding gas sales, same-store sales at BJ's clubs rose 1.9%, lagging estimates of 2.4%.

Family Dollar Stores said Thursday that comparable-store sales for the fiscal fourth quarter, ended Aug. 28, increased 6.1%, beating analysts estimates. Net sales for the quarter rose 8% to $1.96 billion. Sales during the quarter were strongest in the consumables category.

In other same-store sales results for August:

  • TJX Cos.’ sales rose 2%, a bit short of the 2.4% increase analysts had expected. Total revenue for the four weeks ended Aug. 28 rose 6% to $1.7 billion, from $1.6 billion last year.

  • Ross Stores reported a 5% rise in sales, better than the 2.9% gain forecast by Reuters analysts. Total sales for the period ended Aug. 28 were $608 million, up 9%.

  • At Fred's, same-store sales rose 3.6%, just ahead of analysts’ estimates.