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Which Retailer Will Stop Reporting Monthly Sales?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's become a mass exodus in the retail sector, as major players discontinue reporting months same-store sales figures.

The list of retailers that still report the data has dwindled to just 24, and it is unlikely this trend will slow in the coming months. And it begs the question: which company will be next to shed what has become a somewhat dated practice?

Hot Topic (HOTT) announced last week that starting in the second quarter it will no longer report monthly comparable sales results. The teen retailer is piggybacking off rivals Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Aeropostale (ARO - Get Report), who have made similar announcements over the past several months.

The teen sector, in particular, has been criticized amid the recession for being over-saturated and lax in inventory control. As a result, many of these companies were forced to embark on a price war, resorting to deep discounts and promotions during the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

This now puts the focus on Wet Seal (WTSLA), Zumiez (ZUMZ - Get Report) and Buckle (BKE) as the sole representation of the teen space.

>Click here to take our retail sales poll.

The trend resembles the move of women's retailers in 2005, when Talbots (TLB) ignited an evacuation from reporting same-store sales in the sector. New York & Company (NWY - Get Report), Chico's (CHS), Coldwater Creek (CWTR)and Charming Shoppes (CHRS) shelved the practice between 2006 and 2009, leaving Cato (CATO) as the only missy retail still reporting the numbers.

While a majority of the department stores still report same-store sales, Macy's (M) withdrew from the practice in January 2008, only to return less than a year later as its business improved.

But it wasn't until Wal-Mart (WMT) stopped reporting same-store sales in May 2009 that the validity of the data was called into question.

It hardly looks like a coincidence that at the same time Wal-Mart announced the end to monthly reports, same-store sales at the discount behemoth were floundering. The No.1 retailer has now reported seven consecutive quarters of declining U.S. sales.

While rival Target (TGT) isn't nearly as beaten down as Wal-Mart, the discounter has had its fair share of lackluster sales, which has ignited rumors that it could be the next chain to stop reporting monthly data.
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