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Black Friday Didn't Help November Same-Store Sales (Update 2)

Stocks in this article: COST LB

CEO Myron Ullman conceded in the release that: "We know the environment will remain as competitive as ever, and we are all working to maintain our momentum through the holiday season."

The National Retail Federation estimates that spending during the holiday weekend fell 2.9% to $57.4 billion as consumers spent on average 4% less this year compared to last year. However, the trade organization still expects total holiday spending to rise 3.9% to $602 billion.

Retail stores were even more competitive than usual during the Thanksgiving weekend and will remain so throughout the holiday season, blaming the shortened shopping period (with a late Thanksgiving and early Hanukkah this year) as well as the still struggling consumer that is using what discretionary money they do have for things like electronics, specifically with the release of the Apple iPad Air and latest iPhones.

"I just don't think it's a very healthy season," said retail expert Marie Driscoll. "Retailers are really being very aggressive to get sales. It's like the deals just don't stop so I think at the end of the season we're going to walk away saying the consumer doesn't respond anymore unless it's an increasingly deep discount."

"The consumer just has limited funds. If we end up having a strong holiday season I really think we are going to be pulling form the future," she said.

Driscoll added that while consumer durables such as spending on the home "are holding in," apparel "has become a commodity."

On Thursday, Costco Wholesale (COST), the biggest company that still reports monthly sales, said November net sales rose 5% to $8.78 billion. Yet comparable sales rose just 2%, missing analysts' estimates of a 3.3% rise in the month. Excluding gas deflation and foreign exchange, Costco's comparable sales rose 4% last month and 3% in the U.S., also missing estimates.

Costco reports first-quarter earnings on Dec. 11. The company said that quarterly net sales, for the 13 weeks ending Dec. 1, net sales rose 6% to $26.8 billion.

Costco shares fell 1.6% to $120.95.

L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, also missed analysts' expectiations for same-store sales. The company said net sales rose 7.2% to $988.5 million, however comparable store sales slid 5% for the four weeks ending Nov. 30. Analysts, according to Thomson Reuters, expected sales to drop 1.1% last month. Shares fell 1.7% to $62.18. 

Another miss at teen retailer, The Buckle (BKE), which saw comparable sales fall 0.6% last month, though overall sales rose 4.6% to $101.2 million. Analysts were expecting comps to fall 0.5%.

The Buckle's net sales for the month rose 4.6% to $101.2 million.

American Apparel (APP) said November comparable sales rose 1%, however net sales slipped 1% to $49.2 million. Comparable sales were helped by a 4% increase in online sales, the company said Thursday. Thomson Reuters does not provide an estimate for American Apparel's comps.

"We saw meaningful sales strength in both our stores and online business on Black Friday and the weekend following Thanksgiving," Chairman and CEO Dov Charney said in a statement.

Charney also said that the company was "very encouraged" by its Cyber Monday sales, but those sales won't be recognized until December.

November comps at Stein Mart rose 3.1% compared to the 2.5% gain expected. The company said that total sales for the four-week period ended Nov. 30 rose 7.7% to $119.9 million.

"Linens, dresses, ladies' boutique, and ladies' career and casual sportswear posted the strongest sales for the month, while ladies' accessories, men's furnishings and men's sportswear were more challenged," Stein Mart said regarding the 264 department store chain.

Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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