National retailers say August was good to them, with back-to-school shoppers buoying results. The International Council of Shopping Centers says its index of chain stores posted sales that were 6% higher than August of last year, as well as 4.6% higher than July. And Kantar Retail, tracking a slightly different group of stores, says its index climbed 6.2%.
Department store sales were especially solid, and Kantar says that sector rose 7.6%, its best showing since April 2011. Macy’s turned in a 5.1% bump in comparable-store sales, better than it had forecast, with strong results across all categories, geographies and channels. “I am particularly pleased with our back-to-school results in the Millennial customer categories, and our improved performance in feminine apparel,” CEO Terry J. Lundgren says in its release.
At Kohl’s, same-store sales gained 3.4%, and it, too, says it saw improvements in all regions and categories.
Specialty apparel stores also did well, with the Gap reporting a 9% gain in same store sales, including a 12% bounce in its Old Navy division. And at Limited Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret, comps rose 8%.
While there were some stellar results at the high end of the demographic food chain, with Nordstrom’s sales shooting up 21%, (in part because a major annual sales event was switched into August) value-conscious shoppers were out in droves, too. Mass-merchandiser Target says it was pleased that its comparable-store gain of 4.2% came in at the high end of its prediction, as back-to-school sales built steam in the second half of the month. And both TJX, parent of TJMaxx, and Ross Stores, aimed at bargain lovers, rose 8%. At Costco, same-store sales rose 6%.
For September, the ICSC says it predicts the pace of sales will slow down somewhat, to between 3% to 4%, excluding drug stores.