A number of US apparel retailers on Thursday reported lackluster sales at established stores in October amid unseasonably warm weather, although sales at the end of the month were boosted by some Halloween spending.

The months of September and October are normally a breather between two strong shopping seasons, the back-to-school that began in July and the all-important holiday shopping that starts in November. Retailers normally rake up 40 percent of their annual income in the holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation, US retail sales during the upcoming holiday season is expected to increase 4.1 percent to a three-year high of nearly 617 billion dollars from last year. This is also compared to the 3.1 percent rise in 2013 and the average growth of 2.9 percent over the past decade.

Looking ahead, sales for the month of November is expected to pick up towards to second-half of the month Thanksgiving holidays, Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday online shopping coming up then. Meanwhile, a report released from the Conference Board on October 28 showed a significant rebound in consumer confidence in the month of October, reaching its highest level since October of 2007, after reporting a sharp pullback in US consumer confidence in the previous month.

The US consumer confidence index climbed to 94.5 in October from an upwardly revised 89.0 in September. Economists had expected the index to edge up to 87.0 from the 86.0 originally reported for the previous month. Sales at established stores or comparable-store sales is a key retail industry performance metric to gauge activity at store locations that have been open for at least a year.

L Brands, the operator of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works chains, said its October comparable store sales increased 3 percent, reflecting strength of its Victoria's Secret Stores. Net sales were 700.0 million dollars, up 3 percent from 680.5 million dollars last year. Stein Mart reported 1.4 percent growth in comparable store sales for the month of October. Total monthly sales also grew 2.9 percent to 97.7 million dollars from the prior-year month.

"We are pleased with our 3.1 percent comparable store sales increase for the third quarter and the positive impact that our 2014 new and relocated stores are having on sales. These results are particularly satisfying considering that it was much warmer in October this year compared to last year," CEO Jay Stein stated.

Teen apparel retailer Buckle announced that comparable store net sales for the month of October decreased 4.4 percent. Net sales also declined 1.3 percent to 85.4 million dollars from last year's 86.6 million dollars. Meanwhile, value-priced fashion apparel retailer Cato reported that October same-store sales grew 2 percent, and total sales also increased 6 percent from last year to 70.5 million dollars.

"October same-store sales were slightly below our current trend. We remain cautious in regard to the remainder of the year" commented John Cato, Chairman, President, and CEO of Cato. Another specialty retailer of action sports related apparel, footwear, equipment and accessories Zumiez reported Wednesday that its comparable store sales for October grew 3.1 percent. Total net sales also increased 11.7 percent from last year to 51.7 million dollars.

 

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