November sales get Thanksgiving weekend boost


Retailers got a lift over the long Thanksgiving weekend, driving gains in November sales despite some pressure earlier in the month from superstorm Sandy, but the results are not expected to match the gains of a year earlier.

Sales at stores open at least a year among the chains that continue to report the data will be closely watched for indications of consumer spending during the beginning of the holiday season.

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Limited Brands Inc said on Thursday that its same-store sales rose 5 percent, including a hit of one to two percentage points from Sandy. The results topped analysts' expectations for a 3.1 percent increase.

Buckle Inc's 0.1 percent decline in same-store sales missed the analysts' forecast for a 2 percent rise.

Wet Seal Inc's same-store sales fell 5.4 percent, but beat analysts' expectations for a 6.8 percent decline. The chain, which caters to young women, estimated that Sandy took about 1 percentage point away from its same-store sales.

This year, the early part of the month was somewhat muted in the Northeast as residents cleaned up after Sandy.

A total of 52 percent of Black Friday shoppers who participated in a Reuters/Ipsos poll said they had stayed on budget, and 34 percent said they had spent less than planned. Only 14 percent said they had gone over budget.

Analysts expect retailers including Nordstrom Inc, Gap Inc and TJX Cos Inc to post increases in November sales, aided by a busy Thanksgiving weekend.

Excluding drugstores, chains are expected to post a November same-store sales gain of 3.3 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, slower than the year-earlier growth of 3.5 percent.

Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday that it expected 2012 holiday retail sales to grow between 3 percent and 4 percent, down from a 5.6 percent increase in 2011, even though the season got off to a strong start.

The National Retail Federation still expects sales in November and December to rise 4.1 percent this year, below last year's 5.6 percent increase. Total spending increased 12.8 percent to $59.1 billion over the long Thanksgiving weekend, according to an NRF survey.

Cyber Monday deals are not a factor in retailers' November reports, as most chains are reporting their sales through Saturday, November 24. Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving that this year fell on November 26, was reportedly the biggest online shopping day ever.

Some retailers that analysts have said did well over the weekend, such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and online leader Inc, do not report monthly sales.

Same-store sales at Costco Wholesale Corp rose a better-than-expected 6 percent, the warehouse club chain said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)