A Quick Preview Of January Chain Store Sales

Victoria's Secret Model Alessandra Ambrosio

Photo: AP

Wall Street analysts expect same-store sales at many of the nation’s largest retailers to expand modestly, when they report on Thursday.January is a relatively tame month for retailers, often proving purgatory for merchandise that went untouched by shoppers, making clearance drives all the more important.

“Retailers are spending the last few weeks marking down outerwear, sweaters and most things with faux fur at 50-80% off in efforts to close the Q4 with little carryover inventory,” J.P. Morgan’s Brian Tunick said. “After one of the warmest winters most people can remember, the good news will be how easy of a compare the retailers will face next year. Unless of course Al Gore is correct about that whole global warming thing.”

The four week January period drives between four and six per cent of annual sales, but if anything will be viewed to see if recent strong economic data points are boosting consumer sentiment and purchasing. 

Deutsche Bank’s Charles Grom remained positive on high-end broadlines and warehouse clubs like Costco at the start of the year, continuing relatively strong performance at the end of 2011.

“We look for trends quarter-to-date to carry over to January for the department stores with Macy’s and high-end retailers [Nordstrom] and [Saks] continuing to outperform the mid-tier department stores where we believe traffic remained weak,” Grom said.

Retail same-store sales consensus forecasts follow.

  • Big Lots: +1.1 per cent
  • Buckle: +8.5 per cent
  • Costco: +5.3 per cent (excluding gas)
  • Fred’s: +1.2 per cent
  • Gap: -6.0 per cent
  • Kohl’s: +1.1 per cent
  • Limited Brands: +2.3 per cent
  • Macy’s: +4.4 per cent
  • Nordstrom: +7.0 per cent (including Nordstrom Rack)
  • Ross Stores: +2.4 per cent
  • Saks: +5.7 per cent
  • Target: +2.5 per cent
  • TJX: +2.8 per cent
  • Wet Seal: -2.5 per cent

Grom notes that Macy’s and Kohl’s likely benefitted from JCPenney’s pull back in advertising. The department store is rapidly trying to turn its reputation, changing how it conducts mark downs while planning on store re-models. 

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