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

This story has been updated from 12:10 pm EST with Gap's November sales, final Thomson Reuters number and analyst commentary.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It was a mixed bag on whether the strong promotions and deals during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday shopping days had significant positive impact on chain stores' same-store sales last month.

November same-store sales missed the mark, as consumers remained picky on where they shopped and what they shopped for. So far, it's been things other than apparel and accessories.

Thomson Reuters estimated that November comparable sales at several chain stores would rise 2.7%. Of the 11 companies Thomson Reuters tracks, same-store sales rose just 1.9%. Excluding drug stores, same-store sales rose just 1.2% compared to consensus estimates of a 2.3% rise. 

Gap
(GPS) said after the bell on Thursday that net sales rose 8% to $1.63 billion. Comparable sales of 2% were better than 0.8% growth estimates were predicting.

In an effort to get last-minute shoppers in the door, Kohl's (KSS) said Thursday that it plans to keep its doors open for 100 hours straight from 6 am, Friday, Dec. 20 right through 6 pm on Christmas Eve. 

Both Gap and Stein Mart (SMRT) beat November same-store sales expectations, but other retailers didn't fare as well. L Brands (LB) posted its first negative same-store sales number since December 2009, according to Thomson Reuters.

"Off-price retailers continue to outperform the sector, suggesting shoppers still want designer brand names for less. Companies that missed expectations blamed the shorter holiday season, very competitive and difficult environment," Thomson Reuters analyst Jharonne Martis writes in a note.

"Unsold merchandise for the holiday season can add pressure on retailers to take desperate measures," Martis writes, noting Kohl's decision to open for 100 consecutive hours and that analysts aren't optimistic the promotional efforts will help the bottom line.

"Analysts have been slashing their outlook for the holiday season," Martis writes. "Our Thomson Reuters Quarterly Same Store Sales Index, which consists of 75 retailers, is expected to post 1.7% growth for Q4 (vs. 1.6% in Q4 2012). This is below the 3.0% healthy mark."

J.C. Penney (JCP), a retailer that's tracked by Thomson Reuters, kicked off the comp sales reports earlier this week, offering optimism when it said that November same-store sales jumped 10.1% over last year. However, those numbers were off a very low base as J.C. Penney works through a turnaround.

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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