March Retail Sales Winners and Losers

U.S. retail sales results were mixed in March. Among the 18 companies tracked by Thomson Reuters, same-store sales rose 5.3% year-over-year, a marked improvement from the 1.7% gain last March. However, several stores reported retail sales that fell well short of what analyst expectations, sending their stocks tumbling in morning trading.

Only a small percentage of U.S. retailers actually report monthly revenue figures. So we don’t have the full March retail sales picture yet.

But among those companies that did report March results, here were some of the biggest winners and losers:


  • Target (NYSE: TGT): Same-store sales rose 7.3%, better than the 5.4% increase analysts were expecting for Target stores that have been open at least a year. As a result, the company raised its earnings projections for the first quarter.
  • Macy’s (NYSE: M): The high-end department store saw its March sales rise 7.3% year-over-year, trouncing expectations of 4.8%.
  • Limited Brands (NYSE: LTD): The company that operate Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, among other outlets, posted an 8% increase in same-store sales, nearly double the 4.4% rise analysts were expecting.


  • Costco (Nasdaq: COST): The discount merchandise warehouse chain actually had a pretty good month – just not as good as analysts were expecting. Same-store sales leaped 5%, shy of the 5.7% improvement Wall Street had forecast.
  • Buckle (NYSE: BKE) and Wet Seal (Nasdaq: WTSLA): I lumped these two together since they share two things: they’re all teen retailers, and they all struggled in March. Wet Seal fared much worse, with same-store sales falling 7.8% year over year. Buckle’s sales were actually a 6.4% improvement from a year ago, but well short of the 8.8% gains that were expected. And its stock is paying dearly for the sales miss: Shares of BKE are down more than 6% in early trading.
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