Shoppers continued to spend steadily at retailers in October, from discounters all the way to the high end, suggesting consumer confidence heading into the holiday season.
Results tallied Thursday from the 18 national retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters showed an average increase of 2.7 percent in sales at stores open at least a year. The results largely excluded the effects of the hurricane.
Without the Rite Aid drugstore chain, though, that figure would have been 4.7 percent, above analysts’ expectations of a 4.3 percent increase. Rite Aid saw a decline mainly because of a shift toward cheaper generic drugs.
“You’re seeing solid single-digit numbers not just one month but consistently for the past few months," said Madison Riley, managing director at the retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon. “It reflects a steadily improving economy and therefore, steadily improving consumer confidence."
Still, all retailers’ eyes were on the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Most retailers’ fiscal October ended Saturday, so while a few stock-up trips made it into the October results, most of those, along with poststorm spending and the impact of store closures, were not included in October results.
Some analysts have said that consumers may direct their money toward home repairs in the storm’s wake, rather than toward early holiday shopping. However, home improvement retailers and discounters might benefit from shopping for storm supplies.
Categories ranging from department stores to discounters to apparel retailers all posted good results.
“What I find intriguing and encouraging is it’s not isolated," Riley said, “but it’s across the industry."
Stores for those on a budget continued to shine, like Costco, with a 7 percent increase, and the Nordstrom Rack division of Nordstrom, which posted its highest same-store sales increase of the year. The Rack’s same-store sales rose 10.5 percent, while Nordstrom overall posted a 9.8 percent increase.
Kohl’s, which had been struggling to meet analysts’ sales expectations so far this year, surpassed them Thursday, with sales increasing 3.3 percent, versus analysts’ estimates of a 1.1 percent gain. The company said sales of children’s merchandise were stronger than everything else.
Macy’s also came in above analysts’ expectations, with a 4.1 percent increase versus the 3.1 percent analysts had projected. The company raised its same-store sales guidance for the second half of this year to about 4 percent, up from 3.7 percent.