Retailers Report Strong Sales for November

retailers report strong sales for novemberNEW YORK (AP) - Oh what a difference a weekend can make.

Shoppers taking advantage of big discounts and earlier store hours during the start of the holiday shopping season last weekend helped boost retailers' revenue for the entire month of November.

Retailers from Macy's (M) to Costco (COST) on Thursday reported monthly revenue at stores open at least a year - an indicator of a merchant's health - that beat Wall Street estimates. The overall tally for the 21 retailers that reported revenue for November rose 3.2 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

November results offer an important benchmark for retailers and economists. During the holiday shopping season, merchants can make up to 40 percent of their revenue. The period that runs from November through December also gives valuable insights into what it takes to get Americans to spend in the weak economy.

"Clearly, consumers are focused on those bargains," said ICSC chief economist Mike Niemira. "It's a bit tougher to get shoppers to buy from a year ago."

November's results were boosted by the four-day weekend start on Thanksgiving Day, the traditional kickoff the shopping season. Americans spent $52.4 billion over the weekend, the highest total ever recorded during that time, according to the National Retail Federation.

While the figures released Thursday point to a solid start to the shopping season, they represent only a small slice of the industry. Dollar stores, home-improvement chains like Best Buy (BBY), consumer electronics stores like Home Depot (HD) and even Wal-Mart (WMT), the world's largest retailer, don't report monthly revenue.

Still, retailers can glean a lot from the numbers.

For instance, well-heeled shoppers continue to be resilient in the weak economy.

Luxury chain Saks Inc. (SKS), which operates Saks Fifth Avenue, fared well, reporting a 9.3 percent increase. That's better than the 6.1 percent increase analysts had expected.

Macy's, which operates the Macy's and upscale Bloomingdale's department store chains, also posted a 4.8 percent gain, above the 3.9 percent increase that Wall Street analysts had expected. The company's Macy's chain, which was among the retailers who opened at midnight on Thanksgiving evening, benefited from the earlier opening.

"A strong Black Friday punctuated our very positive sales performance throughout November," said Terry J. Lundgren, Macy's chairman, president and chief executive in a statement.
But not every retailer had a strong showing in November. Those targeting lower and middle-income shoppers an uphill battled to get shoppers to spend.

"The lower-income shoppers are postponing their purchases or were cherry picking the deals," said Walter Loeb, a New York-based independent retail consultant.

Target posted a 1.8 percent increase, below the 2.8 percent gain that Wall Street analysts had expected. The discounter blamed the decline on lackluster toy sales.

Additionally, the company told analysts in November that it was also hurt by rival Wal-Mart's holiday layaway program that allows customers to pay-as-they go for gifts, hurt toy sales. Wal-Mart also has been heavily pushing low prices in its ad campaign, which likely hurt Target (TGT).

J.C. Penney (JCP), which targets middle-income shoppers, also reported disappointing results. The retailer said its decision not to open at midnight on Thanksgiving evening hurt revenue on the day after the holiday, which set the tone for the remainder of the weekend.

J.C. Penney reported a 2.0 percent sales drop, worse than the 1.8 percent decline that analysts had expected.

"Sales remained soft in-store throughout the holiday weekend," the company said in statement.

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Don't worry the numbers will be revised down just as the past 8 months of GDP. Bunch of hype from a bias and lieing administration. Hey Charlie,,,,I hope the Dems turn out big in 1012. Just like in 80 and 84. Union get out the vote drives pushed and pulled members to the poles only for them to overwhelmingly vote Reb. and elect Ronald Ragan. Remember the media was pushing Carter and calling Ragan all kinds of names. Yes get out the vote.

December 01 2011 at 6:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

thank you president obama. and you did this without any help from the gop congress. all dems please vote in 2012.

December 01 2011 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wait a second. Nov. is the strongest month for sales in the year. Of course it will show improvement over previous months. Why didn't AOL report that the Unemployment Claims rose above 400000 last two weeks?

December 01 2011 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

November also saw a record drop in wages, how good is that? In the last two years Median family income has dropped at the fastest rate in history,twice as fast as it did before "The Summer of recovery".

December 01 2011 at 4:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank S. Pedigo

Well the economy in China got a boost anyway .

December 01 2011 at 3:13 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

...and then the December adjusments from the commerce dept will be published that will show fewer job, less spending, lower profits, less people shopped, etc, etc

December 01 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The story leaves out that the retailers continue to offer what are essentially profit busting incentives to get the consumers out early. Smacks of the cash for clunkers scenario. Oodles of new cars were sold in a very short period of time, but it just took away from future sales. If you knew you were going to buy a car that year and had something that qualified as a clunker, would have been nuts not to pull the trigger and get the deal. I guess black friday will occur sometime around Halloween next year, and by 2013, they might back it up to Labor day weekend.

December 01 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WOW...What a surprise !! Strong sales in November and more jobs than previous months......Would you like to venture a guess what will happen in January???????

December 01 2011 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to goatcars2's comment

WOW. They're comparing sales to last year to determine how strong they are. Why stop with January, think how far down sales will be if we only count January 1st.

What prevents people from reading and evaluating what they read when it doesn't match their preconceived notions??????.

December 01 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Of course they say that , got to get that PR Spin Doctor some press time .

December 01 2011 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If I remember correctly the media reported the same crap last year

December 01 2011 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply