Macy's Wins, American Eagle Loses in Holiday Sales

Updated from 10:28 am EST with comp sales figures from Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch as well as closing stock prices.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- After the massive promotions seen at chain retailers during the holiday season, several companies are shining a light on how their December same-store sales held up and what that means for their respective fourth quarters.

Analysts have been forecasting a weak holiday season, given the six fewer holiday selling days this year as a result of a late Thanksgiving combined with customer preference for larger ticket items and shopping online at Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY) and elsewhere.

According to the latest Thomson Reuters estimates, same-store sales for the 11 companies that still report monthly comps were an increase of 3.8%, surpassing consensus expectations for a 2.7% rise. Excluding the drugstore sector, sales gained 2.4% above the estimates of 1.9% growth.

In short, some generally better-than-expected results. Costco Wholesale (COST), the largest store that still reports monthly sales, helped fuel the increase, as the Issaquah, Wash.-based company's sales rose 6% for the five-week period ending Jan. 5 to $11.53 billion.

Sales comps during that period rose 3%, above expectations of 1.8%. Costco's U.S. sales comps of 5% also beat expectations of a 1% rise. Costco's sales comps excluding gas and foreign exchange rose 5% for the period.

Costco shares rose 3.9% to $118.51.

The apparel sector, however, didn't perform nearly as well. December same-store sales were expected to rise 2.3%, but came up short, rising just 1.3%.

"Mall traffic in December was lighter than normal, particularly hurting brick-and-mortar retailers. This may be offset somewhat from increased online shopping, but deliveries hit a snag when retailers guaranteed arrivals closer to Christmas and UPS (UPS) admitted it was overwhelmed," a Jan. 8 Thomson Reuters preview note said.

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