September retail sales rise a solid 5.1%, beating expectations
Putting worries about the economy aside, shoppers responded to deep discounts and the final weeks of back-to-school shopping by spending heavily at major chain stores last month.
The retail industry posted a 5.1% year-over-year rise in September sales, according to Thomson Reuters' tally of 23 large retailers released Thursday. That was better than the 4.6% uptick expected by Wall Street analysts and reflected a healthy shopping mindset among consumers despite an otherwise sluggish economic outlook.
"The general disconnect between U.S. retailers ... and broader weakness in the global economy continued in September," said Ken Perkins, president of research firm Retail Metrics Inc.
Sales rose 8.6% at discounters, 3.7% at department stores, 2.9% at apparel sellers and 6.2% at teen apparel chains.
Results are based on sales at stores open at least a year, known as same-store sales and considered an important measure of a retailer's health because it excludes store openings and closings.
All told, 60% of chains beat expectations.
The month's top performers reflected a mix of retail sectors. Leading the pack was Costco, which reported a 12% rise. Apparel seller Limited, parent to the Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works chains, said sales rose 11%. Upscale department store Nordstrom posted a 10.7% rise and teen retailer Zumiez saw sales increase 10.1%.
The worst results came from struggling apparel giant Gap Inc., which posted a 4% decline.
-- Andrea Chang
Photo: A shopper at Westfield West Covina. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times