Consumers Play Hooky on Back-to-School Sales

Aug 27, 2002

Wal-Mart says sales in the recent week hit the low end of its August same-store sales growth target as warmer weather led shoppers to buy fewer back-to-school clothes, reports Reuters. It was the second time this month that the company reported sluggish weekly sales trends but still within its four percent to six percent target.

Target reports same-store sales missed its plan again last week, hurt by continued weak purchases of men’s items, jewelry and accessories. This will make the second straight month of sales below its expectations. Although same-store sales at its discount stores will increase between two percent and four percent for the month of August, those for the company as a whole will come in slightly below that range, due to slower growth at its Marshall Field’s and Mervyn’s department store businesses.

Women’s apparel chain Bebe Stores cut its same-store sales outlook for the current quarter. Federated Department Stores also reported that sales in the recent week trended below its expectations of a one percent to three percent drop in same-store sales.

Bucking the weaker trend was J.C. Penney. The company says department store sales were running better than its expectations of flat to slightly higher same-store sales. It cited strength in its back-to-school range, saying fine jewelry and children’s and women’s apparel were the strongest performers in the latest week.

Moderator Comment: Does a slowdown in Wal-Mart sales spell trouble for the rest of the retailing industry?

Most retailers would be very happy with four percent
growth in the current environment. Of course, Wal-Mart is not most retailers.
Anderson – Moderator

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