Specialty Apparel Retailers Post Weak Sales, With Some Exceptions

The nation’s specialty apparel retailers took a beating in October, as consumers continue to cut back on spending amid the economic crisis.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. suffered a 20% drop last month, steeper than the 14.4% decline expected. Same-store sales fell 14% at namesake stores, 26% at Abercrombie, 25% at its Hollister stores and 26% at its Ruehl stores.

Gap Inc. on Thursday said its same-store sales dropped 16%, worse than the 11.1% decline. Limited Brands Inc. reported a 9% drop.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. reported a 12% drop in same-store sales in October, worse than the 8% decline predicted.

Wet Seal Inc. saw its same-store sales fall 6.2%, less than the 8.6% decline expected. The teen retailer said it now expects third-quarter profit at the high end of its guidance.

Amid all the gloom, however, some retailers managed to thrive.

The Buckle Inc. on Thursday said its October same-store sales rose 14.5%.

The company said sales of both men's and women's clothing, accessories and footwear were strong. Also, average prices were higher than a year ago, with the average transaction value up 8% over last year, in part reflecting fewer discounts this year.

The Buckle said net sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 1 rose 20.7% to $60.3 million, from $50 million in the corresponding period last year.

Aeropostale Inc. said Thursday same-store sales rose 1% in October and raised its third-quarter-earnings estimates on the better-than-expected sales. Analysts expected Aeropostale's same-store sales to fall by 14.4%. percent.

Total sales for the four weeks ending Nov. 1 rose 9% to $127.4 million from $116.4 million a year ago. Third-quarter total sales rose 17% to $482 million, while year-to-date total sales have grown 20% to $1.2 billion.

Urban Outfitters Inc.’s same-store sales rose 10% in its third quarter on strong results from its namesake brand. Same-store sales for its Urban Outfitters brand climbed 17%, while Anthropologie same-store sales edged up 2% and Free People same-store sales increased 4%.

Despite its solid third-quarter performance, CEO Glen T. Senk warned that the company would approach the holiday and spring seasons conservatively.

In other bright spots, Hot Topic Inc. said Wednesday its same-store sales jumped 8.3% in October. Same-store sales at Hot Topic namesake stores grew 8.4%, and same-store sales at its Torrid locations increased 7.8%.

Cato Corp. said Thursday that same-store sales rose 4% in October, beating analysts' expectations as the women's apparel retailer benefited from cool weather.

Bakers Footwear Group Inc. said Thursday that same-store sales rose 6.2% in October on increased sales of regular-priced footwear for fall.

The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc. reported Thursday that October same-store sales rose 4%, outpacing analyst expectations.