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Holiday sales results mixed; teen retailers got a boost


New York -- Teen retailers had a “less dreadful” holiday selling season than was anticipated. That’s how analysts are tempering the news that banners such as American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale and Urban Outfitters posted stronger-than-expected holiday results, released by most on Thursday.

In fact, say industry watchers, the strong sales figures look pretty shiny because they are exaggerated by pre-season low expectations, which were dragged down by fears of aggressive discounting and waning mall traffic.

Among retailers that reported their December or combined November and December same-store sales on Thursday, most surprised on the upside, including Costco Wholesale Corp., Walgreens. Barnes & Noble and Pier 1 Imports.

In the teen group, Urban Outfitters reported record sales of $785 million for the two months combined, and AEO, Aeropostale and Zumiez raised their outlooks.

“Santa delivered this holiday season after two ho-hum seasons,” Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins said. However, he said estimates were “very modest,” partly reflecting “deep discounting concerns.”

J.C. Penney Co. reported better-than-expected holiday sales, but also announced that it is shuttering 40 stores and cutting 2,250 jobs. Wet Seal announced Wednesday that it would close 66% of its store base, leaving some to wonder if the chain will be around to see another holiday shopping season. Still, analysts overall saw the holiday 2014 shopping season as “solid,” and one that could lay a reliable foundation for 2016.

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