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Apparel Retail - January Sales Preview

 February 04, 2013 04:22 PM

(By Mani) Apparel retailers would be reporting their comparable store sales results for the month of January on Feb.7.

Comparable or same-store-sales are a key metric to measure retail performance as it takes sales from stores that have been open for at least one year. In other terms, it excludes sales from new stores, thereby giving investors and market analysts a hindsight over the performance of a retail chain's existing stores.

Both January and February are low-volume months, and retail chains will be focused on clearing the inventory and assorting items for Spring sales. With holiday sales and winter clearance wrapping up midway through the month, shoppers may have taken a pause while stores began transitioning to new spring merchandise.

[Related -American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) Q3 Earnings Preview: What To Watch?]

Unusually cold weather in the West in early January and Northeast/Midwest in late last month are likely helped sales of cold-weather items, but likely hurt full-price spring selling.

In this period, investors should focus on margins and first-quarter outlook from the retailers.

Following are some of the companies that are expected to report same store sales results.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE: JWN), Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST), TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TJX), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE: ANF), Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE: ARO) and American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (NYSE: AEO).

[Related -The Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS), L Brands Inc(NYSE:LTD): How November Comps Will Fare Post Black Friday?]

Most chains appeared to have successfully exited remaining holiday merchandise and were able to set their initial spring assortments without the distraction of major levels of carryover product remaining in stores. This bodes well for chains American Eagle, Hollister and Aeropostale, who are offering updated spring merchandise as they are better able to show case their new offerings.

"Given the mix between solid early trends and a likely drop-off, we believe comps in January will be modest, but still likely positive," RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin said in a client note.

Following is a table that lists out the consensus estimate and the company guidance for various retailers that report same store sales on a monthly basis:



Consensus Estimate



3.5 percent

Limited Brands

Low Single Digits

2.8 percent

Ross Stores

1-2 percent

2.4 percent


0-2 percent

2.5 percent



4 percent

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