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Costco Gets a Boost from Improved Retail Sales

Posts by Ian Wyatt

September retail sales figures are out, and the numbers are mixed.

Same-store sales were up 1.6% among 17 U.S. retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s progress, especially for a month like September that falls in the shopping no-man’s land between the back-to-school rush and the holiday season.

But it’s not nearly the same progress as a year ago. Last September, same-store sales increased 5.5% from the prior year. It’s also much slower than the 6.1% year-over-year gain in August and the 4.8% gain in July.

Still, there were a few bright spots among those 17 retailers whose September sales were made public. Chief among them was Costco (NASDAQ: COST). Sales at the members-based wholesaler climbed 5% in September. That’s pushing shares up 1.5% in mid-day trading today.

Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD), the parent company of six retails brands including Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, posted similar September sales. The 5% increase in same-store sales outpaced the 4.3% jump analysts were expecting.

The improved sales have yet to do much for the stock prices, however. As of 12:30 p.m. eastern, Limited shares were basically flat for the day.

One retailer that’s getting hammered today is Buckle (NYSE: BKE), a teen apparel company that saw its sales drop off 0.8% last month. That was enough of a drop-off to push shares of the small-cap stock down 2.5% today.