Aug 30 - August chain store sales numbers crushed even the most upbeat forecasts as fresh fashions, like colored jeans, and the back to school season encouraged shoppers to spend. Jeanne Yurman reports.
Retail sales smashed some of the most optimistic forecasts this month as back-to-school shoppers showed up in force. Nearly all U.S. retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters beat estimates in the second biggest shopping season after the holidays; excluding drugstores, sales jumped over six percent. After months of volatile sales, the back-to-school season worked in the favor of a consumer trend known as appointment shopping. Liz Dunn of Macquarie Securities: SOUNDBITE: LIZ DUNN, SENIOR ANALYST, MACQUARIE SECURITIES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There's less everyday shopping and more shopping around occasion. Back to school is a very important occasion for consumers and they really got out there and did that shopping." Topping the list of winners: Nordstrom, The Gap, Limited Brands, Ross Stores and TJX. Jennifer Davis at Lazard Capital Markets says retailers benefitted from the first major shift in a fashion cycle since the mid 2000's headlined by colored and print jeans. SOUNDBITE: JENNIFER DAVIS, ANALYST, LAZARD CAPITAL MARKETS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Last year people could shop their closet--they had skinny blue denim. They had dresses. You know they could shop their closet and still feel like they were wearing stylish clothes. Now they don't have yellow jeans in their closet so they have to go out buy those." Retailers also seemed to get their inventories, product mixes and promotional offers right. SOUNDBITE: LIZ DUNN, SENIOR ANALYST, MACQUARIE SECURITIES (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I don't think the consumer necessarily needs to see 70 percent off but I do think they need to feel they're getting a value both in terms of everyday prices and in terms of special promotions and I think that those companies that are really hitting the nail on the head with getting to that emotional price point for the consumer are succeeding." Analysts say the results in August bode well for the fall and for the holiday season not far off ahead. Jeanne Yurman, Reuters.