U.S. retailers' October sales rise, but holiday concerns remain

Thu Nov 7, 2013 11:14am EST
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By Phil Wahba

(Reuters) - Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: Quote) and Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc LTD.N were among the major U.S. retailers to report same-store sales gains for October, but many chains expressed caution heading into the holiday season.

Consumer confidence has dipped, in part because of slow employment growth, and shoppers have gravitated toward bargains in recent months.

A group of eight U.S. retailers reported an overall 3 percent increase in sales at stores open at least a year, better than analysts' forecasts of 2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Gap Inc (GPS.N: Quote), which is also part of the same-store sales index, will report after the market closes.

The Standard & Poor's Retail Index .SPXRT was down 1 percent on Thursday, while the broad S&P 500 stock index .SPX fell 0.5 percent.

Costco reported a slightly bigger-than-expected 3 percent gain in same-store sales. Fresh food was among its best-selling products, and the weakest category was consumer electronics.

L. Brands said its same-store sales were up 8 percent, well above the 2.2 percent gain Wall Street analysts were expecting, according to Thomson Reuters.

The 16-day U.S. government shutdown at the start of the month weighed on consumer confidence and slowed job growth. U.S. job growth probably slowed sharply in October, with the unemployment rate ticking higher, according a Reuters survey of economists published this week.   Continued...

Shoppers push a trolley outside a Costco Wholesale store in Los Angeles, California March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni