October comps a mixed bag

New York -- With retail books closed prior to Hurricane Sandy’s arrival in the Northeast, most retailers experienced same-store sales gains for the month of October, some with stronger showings than others.

The 17 retail chains tracked by Thomson Reuters are predicted to report 4.3% growth in October same-store sales, up slightly over the 4.1% advance reported in the year-ago period and a significant gain over September’s 0.8% rise.

Among specialty retailers, Gap and Limited showed the greatest muscle in a weaker October category, with lifted same-store sales of 4% and 3% respectively.

Gap Inc.’s swing to a 4% same-store sales gain in October from its 6% decrease in the same period last year represented measurable strides for the company, said CEO Glenn Murphy. “We’re very pleased with the continued momentum in the business across all brands in North America,” said Murphy. “Our focus remains on offering great product to our customers in order to sustain our business performance.” By brand, Gap North America recorded a 6% Oct. same-store sales gain versus negative 5% last year, Banana Republic North America was up 5% versus up just 1% last year, and Old Navy North America recorded a 5% same-store sales gain versus negative 9% last year.

For the quarter, Gap reported an 8% increase in net sales to $3.86 billion, and it has raised its third-quarter guidance 60% over last year.

At Limited Brands Inc., sales momentum slowed as the October 2012 same-store sales gain of 3% missed Wall Street’s expected 5% rise. Victoria’s Secret was the big disappointment as same-store sales growth slowed to 3% while analysts expected a 6.1% gain.

The Buckle surprised with a 3.8% same-store sales rise, when a decrease of 1.3% was expected.

Other same-store sales results among the specialty retail category include:

  •  Wet Seal’s comps dropped 7.6%;
  • Zumiez edged up 0.6%;
  • Cato was flat; and
  • Hot Topic rose 0.2%.