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February 1, 2017

U.S. January Retail Sales Facing Easy Comparisons From A Year Ago

by Jharonne Martis.

As 2017 begins, U.S. retailing is showing signs of strength.

The Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index is expected to register a 2.9% gain for January 2017, considerably better than January 2016’s -1.7% result. U.S. retailers are facing easy comparisons from last year, when only one retailer reported positive SSS in January 2016. The Discount sector is expected to post the strongest SSS growth in January 2017, while the teen index continues to feel the most pain.

Gap has the heaviest weighting in our apparel sector, and is bolstering the overall group with a 2.1% SSS estimate. Its Old Navy division continues to outperform the other divisions and is expected to register a 4.9% SSS.  Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect the Apparel sector as a whole to report a 1.0% SSS, compared to the -5.8% SSS recorded in January 2016. Meanwhile, L Brands is expected to register an anemic 0.2% SSS, above last year’s -2.0% SSS. Victoria Secret’s -2.3% SSS estimate brings L Brand’s SSS down as it continues to struggle transitioning its merchandise. Meanwhile, teen retailer The Buckle has the weakest January SSS estimate, at -11.5%.

January marks the last month of the retail industry’s fourth quarter. Our Thomson Reuters Quarterly Same Store Sales Index, which consists of 80 retailers, is expected to post 0.4% growth for Q4 (vs. 1.2% in Q4 2016).

Exhibit 1.  January 2017 SSS estimates

Picture1

Source: I/B/E/S estimates.  Note: Aggregate mean data is revenue weighted.

Exhibit 2.  Costco is on Top, While The Buckle Is Expected to Post the Weakest SSS
Table 3

Source: I/B/E/S estimates

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