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Retailers Post Mixed August Same-Store Sales (Update 1)

This story has been updated from 10:09 am ET with new information.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Despite an ever growing trend of retailers not reporting same-store sales, the one that do had mixed results for August.

Of the 11 companies tracked by Thomson Reuters, August same-store sales came in above Wall Street expectations, registering 3.5% growth compared to an estimate of 3.1% and 1.1% sales growth in the year-earlier period. However, excluding drug stores, August same-store sales were weaker with a registered 2.9% growth vs. the 3.2% estimate and 6.5% sales growth in the year-earlier period.

Apparel sales last month were generally soft coming off of strong gains in 2012, said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics.

"Back-to-School got off to a slow start given the current sluggish growth environment. Early surveys by the National Retail Federation found consumers were going to cut back on spending this year following a strong season last year," according to a note by Perkins. "Consumers looked to be shopping even closer to need this year as sales did pick up at the end of the month and over the Labor Day weekend. Retailers were very promotional during the month as they moved to drive traffic."

"Much has been made about the shift in consumer spending away from apparel toward durable goods and big ticket items over the past quarter or two," Perkins added.

Data points from the automakers on Wednesday as well as from AutoNation (AN) and Conn's (CONN) Thursday morning "provide further evidence of this trend which looks to be crowding out spending in specialty apparel and department stores," Perkins said.

August auto sales rose an impressive 17%, while AutoNation comps advanced a whopping 26%, marking the best month in a decade for the company, Perkins said. Conn's, a regional appliance chain, racked up a 31% August same-store sales increase, he added.

"August represents the first month in the third quarter , and mall traffic was slow given the weak start to the back-to-school season," Thomson Reuters wrote in a report on Wednesday. "However, mall traffic improved towards the end of the month during the Labor Day weekend, which has become an essential sale weekend for retailers. Still, retailers will report August SSS for the four weeks ending Saturday, August 31. Thus, Sunday and Monday sales will be reflected into the September 2013 SSS cycle."

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