Retail Sales Give Pause on Strength of Recovery

Navigator Edition: September 2013
By: Jeff Avery

It was a bit sobering to see retailers post weak sales in the most recent quarter, a feeling reinforced when the Fed delayed “tapering” its bond-buying program in the face of economic and political headwinds. Moreover, the sluggish sales were far-reaching, as retailers that reach across multiple sectors and demographics experienced softness. Reasons cited for disappointing sales included higher payroll taxes, weak labor force participation, and stagnant income growth, which have weighed on consumer confidence and dampened discretionary spending. Retailers also cited a disproportionate share of spending on large purchases such as automobiles, housing, and home improvement, which was reinforced by the strong performances of Home Depot and Lowe’s. The following table summarizes the sales releases.

Figure 1: Retailer Total Sales and Comparable-Store Sales Growth
Quarterly Metrics (Q4 2012 – Q2 2013)


Source: 1US-only unless otherwise noted. All growth figures are compared to same quarter in previous year, reflecting year-over-year growth. 2Costco Same-Store Sales growth does not exclude impact of changes in gasoline prices.  Results for fiscal Q3 ended May 12, 2013. 3Nordstrom includes Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, both Store and Direct channels. 4Home Depot Total Sales include US and International operations. Comparable store sales growth is US only. 5Lowe’s includes US, Canada, Mexico sales. Retailer press releases. 6Best Buy domestic sales excludes additional week in Q1 2012. 7Tiffany’s sales performance is for the Americas region. 8Gap comparable store sales include global operations for all three brands (Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy). Total Sales are US-only sales. 9The Limited Brands includes US and International sales.

For more information, please contact Jeff Avery, Senior Analyst specializing in Credit Card Issuing,

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