By Andria Cheng, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. retailers posted their best October sales in more than a year, with sales up 2.2%, with discounters and department stores leading better-than-expected gains while teen retailers struggled.
The numbers, tracked by Retail Metrics, showed retailers’ best month since April 2008 and compare to a 3.5% decline in October 2008, when the start of the financial crisis sent consumer spending into a nosedive.
Gap Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!gps/quotes/nls/gps (GPS 23.03, +0.94, +4.23%) , helped by its discount Old Navy chain, led a better-than-expected 5.9% increase in the specialty apparel group, Retail Metrics data showed.
Discount group sales were up 2.3%, led by upside at Costco Wholesale Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!cost/quotes/nls/cost (COST 58.87, +0.06, +0.10%) . Department store group’s decline was smaller than expected, after a surprise and better-than-expected gain each from luxury retailers Saks Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!sks/quotes/nls/sks (SKS 5.68, +0.11, +1.98%) and Nordstrom Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!jwn/quotes/nls/jwn (JWN 33.16, +0.56, +1.70%) .
Teen retailers declined a worse-than-expected 4.7%, after disappointments in retailers from Aeropostale Inc. to American Eagle Outfitters Inc. Aeropostale Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!aro/quotes/nls/aro (ARO 32.63, -5.40, -14.20%) and American Eagle Outfitters Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!aeo/quotes/nls/aeo (AEO 15.82, -2.04, -11.42%) were each down 13% and 11% in late morning trading. American Eagle’s third-quarter outlook also missed. Aeropostale Inc. sales rose 3%, missing estimates of a 14% jump even as it raised its third-quarter outlook.
“It’s not a universal turnaround,” said John Long, a retail strategist at consultant Kurt Salmon Associates. “Caution is still in the air. Consumers are still being selective.”