retail

Limited, Macy’s November sales top estimates on holiday crowds

Posted 12/1/11

NEW YORK - Limited Brands Inc. and Macy’s Inc. reported November same-store sales that topped analysts’ estimates after Thanksgiving weekend deals drew record crowds.

Sales at Limited Brands, operator of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain, climbed 7 percent, beating the average projection for a 4.9 percent gain from analysts surveyed by researcher Retail Metrics Inc. Macy’s posted a 4.8 percent increase in same-store sales, topping the 4.1 percent estimate.

Retailers are getting a sales lift from shoppers that took advantage of holiday discounts to buy gifts for others and treat themselves. Consumers spent a record $52.4 billion during Thanksgiving weekend, 16 percent more than a year earlier, according to the National Retail Federation.

“Black Friday might have improved the number,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y. “We saw a lot of business during a bad economy.”

Sales at Saks Inc., the luxury department store based in New York, increased 9.3 percent in November, exceeding the estimate of 5.9 percent, the company said in a statement Thursday.

“What you saw on Black Friday is people were excited early,” CEO Steve Sadove said in a Bloomberg Television interview Thursday. Luxury consumers continue to spend on the most expensive items, such as fine jewelry and exotic-skin handbags, he said. The direction of the stock markets will be key to sales for the remainder of the holiday season, he said.

Limited climbed 3.8 percent to $43.95 at 8:46 a.m. in New York. Macy’s rose 0.5 percent to $32.50.

Special Dividend

Limited Brands also said it would pay a $2 special dividend to shareholders on Dec. 23. Victoria’s Secret, Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands’ largest chain, reported November sales climbed 11 percent, beating the average estimate for a 6.3 percent gain.

“Black Friday through Cyber Monday has become an increasingly important part of the holiday shopping season, and I am pleased with our results for the weekend,” CEO Leslie Wexner said in an e-mail.

Sales at Cincinnati-based Macy’s were aided by strong Black Friday sales, CEO Terry Lundgren said in a statement Thursday.

Consumers had put off their own shopping to wait for expected heavy holiday promotions, the Washington-based NRF said. Shoppers spent $398.62 on average, compared with $365.34 a year earlier, the NRF said. A record 226 million people went shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend, compared with 212 million last year.

Consumer Spending

Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, grew at a 2.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest pace of 2011, the Commerce Department said Nov. 22.

Retail Metrics, based in Swampscott, Mass., estimated an increase of 3.1 percent for the more than 20 chains it tracks. Overall results will be released later today.

Most chains count locations open at least a year to tabulate same-store sales. The revenue is a key indicator of a retailer’s growth because new and closed sites are excluded.

The strong Black Friday sales are unlikely spur momentum during the holiday season, Cohen said in a telephone interview before Thursday's results.

“Just because the deals are good doesn’t mean that consumers have a bigger paycheck or more money in the bank to spend,” Cohen said.

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