NEW YORK – L Brands Inc., which owns Victoria’s Secret and has powered through a choppy economy, reported August same-store sales Thursday that narrowly missed estimates, the latest evidence of weakness among U.S. apparel chains.
Sales at L Brands stores open at least 12 months rose 2 percent, compared with a predicted gain of 2.1 percent. Teen chain the Buckle Inc. posted an increase of 1 percent, just surpassing analysts’ estimates for a gain of 0.6 percent.
The results come after retailers from Macy’s Inc. to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. missed second-quarter sales estimates and cut forecasts. Retailers also had a sluggish start to the back-to-school shopping season in July. The chains reporting August sales Thursday have done little to buck that trend, which may continue into the holiday shopping season, the largest spending period of the year.
“There has been a shift away from spending on apparel and other discretionary items and a shift toward purchases of homes and automobiles,” Jennifer Davis, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets in New York, said in a phone interview Thursday. “The consumer is feeling better and is willing to make larger item purchases but that leaves them with less money in their wallet to spend on other things. The items you can live without, people are living without.”
August same-store sales for the more than 10 companies tracked by Retail Metrics rose 3.8 percent. While that surpassed analysts’ projections for a gain of 3.2 percent, the results were bolstered by a strong showing by Costco Wholesale Corp. and Walgreen Co.