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Modest May for retailers


New York -- Same-stores sales increased 3.2% in May, edging up from a 3% gain in April, according to a preliminary tally of 12 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The number of retailers reporting same-store sales has dropped dramatically over the past two years, with major department store companies and discounters no longer reporting. Many specialty fashion chains are also following suit. Some experts caution that the results are now so limited they are not representative of the industry at large.

One of the strongest performers was Gap Inc., whose May same-store sales increased a better-than-expected 7%, helped by strong results at its namesake and Old Navy chains. The metric rose 8% at Gap, was flat at Banana Republic and was up 9% at Old Navy stores.

At Costco Wholesale Corp., same-store sales rose 5% in May, missing analyst estimates, due to a relatively stronger dollar and weak gasoline prices.

In other same-store sales results for May:

  • The Buckle topped expectations, with a 4.1% increase.

  • At L Brands Inc. (formerly known as Limited Brands), sales were up 3%, slightly below expectations. Its Victoria's Secret division reported a 4% rise in same-store sales, above expectations for a 2.8% increase.

  • Cato Corp.’s sales fell 2%.

  • At Stein Mart's, sales increased 8.2%.

  • Fred’s reported a 0.5% drop, less than what was expected.

  • Zumiez posted a 1.1% increase, missing estimates.

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