Shoppers picky as they head back to stores

By Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Sales at major retailers rose for a 10th straight month in June, but mixed results reported Thursday signaled that consumers are still cautious.

According to sales tracker Thomson Reuters, which looks at monthly sales for 28 leading chains such as Macy's (M, Fortune 500), Target (TGT, Fortune 500), Costco (COST, Fortune 500) and J.C. Penney (JCP, Fortune 500), June same-store sales rose 3.1%. That was slightly below the firm's initial estimate for an increase of 3.2%.

Same-store sales, a key gauge of a retailer's performance, measure sales at stores open at least a year.

While consumers may still be hesitant to open up their wallets, June's gain was stronger than May's 2.5% increase and a significant jump from the 4.9% drop in same-store sales reported in June of last year.

"The bottom line is that consumer spending is continuing to grow, but only modestly and not at the fast pace we saw at the beginning of the year," said Scott Hoyt, a retail economist at Moody's Economy.com.

"Unemployment is still high, wealth is probably falling again with the declines in the stock market, and overall confidence is very low, so there are just a number of constraints on the consumer right now," he added.

Out of the 28 stores, 44% beat analysts' expectations, while 56% missed.

Sluggish sales: Sales at discount and apparel stores were the most disappointing in June. Discount store sales rose an average of 2.9% last month, compared with an expected 3.6% jump, while sales at apparel stores increased 2.9%, much lower than the 3.5% rise that had been forecast.

Discounter BJ's Wholesale (BJ, Fortune 500) said sales rose 3.8% in June, missing estimates of a 5.3% increase, while sales at Target increased only 1.7%, lower than the 2.7% jump that had been expected.

In the apparel arena, sales at Gap Inc.'s Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic stores dragged the overall apparel sector down in June. Same-store sales at Gap Inc. (GPS, Fortune 500) stores remained flat on average in June, while analysts had expected a 3.4% gain.

Excluding Gap Inc.-owned stores, apparel retailers gained 3.8% on average, slightly beating expectations of a 3.5% rise.

Biggest gainers: Department stores, boosted by promotions and steep discounts, posted the largest increase last month, gaining an average 5.8%.

JC Penney (JCP, Fortune 500), Nordstrom (JWN, Fortune 500) and Macys were among the best performers, all beating expectations in June.

Teen retailers also fared well last month, posting an overall gain of 3.7%, compared to the forecast 2.4% rise.

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Hollister, Aeropostale and Zumiez (ZUMZ) posted some of the biggest gains, while other teen retailers like the Buckle (BKE) and Wet Seal struggled to lure in back-to-school shoppers.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,683.58 -46.53 -0.26%
Nasdaq 4,991.94 -17.27 -0.34%
S&P 500 2,068.76 -8.02 -0.39%
Treasuries 2.28 -0.11 -4.81%
Data as of 7:07pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.94 -0.09 -0.53%
Micron Technology In... 18.32 -0.75 -3.93%
Frontier Communicati... 4.92 0.07 1.44%
Intel Corp 30.04 -0.52 -1.69%
Apple Inc 126.00 -0.44 -0.35%
Data as of 4:00pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

Greek banks will stay shut for another two days as the country's government tries to restart negotiations on a bailout with Europe. More

Waze, a Google-owned company that builds crowdsourced maps, is testing a new carpool program in Tel Aviv. More

Entrepreneur Guillaume Gauthereau is on a mission to build a 50 to a 100 acre sanctuary in New York to provide refuge to honey bees. More

Building a strong credit score at a young age can save a lot of money down the road. Here's how to do it. More