Retailers see modest September sales gains

Anne D'Innocenzio, Associate Press 

NEW YORK — Several U.S. retailers reported modest sales gains for September as shoppers who were worried about a partial government shutdown and the overall economy pulled back their spending from the prior month.

The results increase concerns about how shoppers will spend for the crucial holiday season, the largest shopping selling period for retailers.

Revenue at stores opened at least a year — a measure of a retailer's health— rose 2.7% in September, according to a preliminary tally of 9 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers. That was a slower pace than the 3.5% increase posted in August.

L Brands, the parent of Victoria's Secret, and Costco Wholesale Corp. were among the chains that reported results that missed Wall Street estimates, while Stein Mart Inc. posted results that beat analysts' expectations.

Only a sliver of retail chains report monthly sales figures, and the list doesn't include Wal-Mart Stores, Macy's Inc. and many other large chains. But it offers some clues into consumer spending heading into the holiday shopping season.

L Brands, the parent of Victoria's Secret, reported that revenue at stores opened at least a year rose just 1% in September, below the 2% gain that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected. Costco Wholesale Corp. reported Wednesday that revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 3%, below the 3.7% gain that was anticipated by Wall Street.

September was a difficult month. Warmer-than-usual weather hurt sales of sweaters and other fall clothes. But economic concerns also dampened sales.

Shoppers worry that the partial government shutdown, which is on its tenth day and has forced about 800,000 federal workers off the job, will be prolonged. That, and the possibility that politicians won't resolve their deadlock over the federal debt limit before the U.S. Treasury's borrowing authority is exhausted next week, adds to the concerns. A financial default could plunge the economy into recession, cause interest rates to increase and home values to drop.

Those worries compound challenges retailers have had in trying to get shoppers spending again. The job and housing markets are improving, but that hasn't yet translated into sustained spending increases among most shoppers.

 

Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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