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The Real Deal With Nordstrom's Sales Numbers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Maybe it's just me. I'm a sucker for cut-rate anything. I walk around the mall with a well-honed sense of regularly scheduled sales. You can set your watch (almost) by Nordstrom's (JWN - Get Report) July anniversary sale.

The media, though, doesn't always have that watch.

Nordstrom, for example, reported same-store sales yesterday and MarketWatch ran the headline: "Fashionable kids save August."

They soon told us:

"Nordstrom Inc. blew away expectations. The luxury department-store operator posted a 21% same-store-sales gain, far above the 11.1% estimate."

And that was it.

Guess those fashionable kids just love to get their lunch boxes at Nordstrom. Well, not exactly, but we'll get to that.

At least Investor's Business Daily got a bit closer. They were celebratory in their headline:

"Nordstrom, Gap, TJX Lead August Sales"

And continued the party in the lead:

"While many students may dread the start of school and homework, students and their parents were excited to go shopping for back-to-school clothing and accessories."

It wasn't until way below that we hear tell of the shift in an Anniversary Sale at Nordstrom. But they offered no details.

By contrast, the Associated Press did a commendable job.

They let us know about the sale in the headline: "Nordstrom Aug. performance leaps on big sale event." Better yet, they soon filled us in on the scale of the shift:

"Results were boosted because the company's biggest sale of the year, a 17-day event, started a week later this year than last year. That pushed some of the promotions into August."

The Wall Street Journal went one further. They combined July and August to even out the impact of the sale. Calculated that way, Nordstrom's same-store sales rose 8.4%. Good, to be certain, but no giant cause for celebration.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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