In its report today on September retail sales, Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) announced that beginning in January 2013, the company would no longer report monthly sales figures, including same-store sales:

This decision is based on discussions with many of our investors and is consistent with the practice of the vast majority of our retail peers. We believe aligning our sales guidance and reporting with disclosure of our quarterly financial results will create a longer-term focus and provide greater understanding of our sales results in the context of our overall financial performance.

Target joins a number of other retailers that have discontinued monthly reported, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG), Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX), Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW), Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY), Aeropostale Inc. (NYSE: ARO) and Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS).

The retailers are, perhaps, being disingenuous. For years stores have been able to track sales data on a daily basis and make business decisions based on that data. The principal rationale for keeping the data away from public view is that monthly data encourages short-term volatility and trading.

Retailers also complain about the cost and effort of preparing the monthly reports, but how much does it cost to publish unaudited data that is available with a handful of keystrokes?

Investors are not making enough noise, so retailers will continue to rein in information they do not want investors to have. In 2008, Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M) stopped publishing monthly data January and resumed publication in October saying, "We want to provide investors as much information and transparency as possible."

And so should they all.

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Retail Tagged: ARO, BBY, BKS, DG, HD, LOW, M, SBUX, TGT, WMT

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