Retailers reported another month of weak same-store sales in August, as back-to-school results came in worse than expected.
Industrywide, same-store sales fell for a 12th straight month -- highlighting the woes retailers have been under as consumer spending continues to decline. But with leaner inventories, companies are hoping to avoid the markdowns of last year's holiday season as sales then were even weaker than expected.
August results were also hurt by the late Labor Day holiday, meaning some schools started sessions later than last year. Another likely impact was the strong rebound in August U.S. auto sales on the "Cash for Clunkers" program. It was seen as steering some consumers away from retailers to showrooms.
Still, the sales decline was smaller than July's, and comparisons will continue to get easier in the coming months. Weak prior-year results in part helped cushion the August decline --year-earlier same-store sales rose a scant 0.2%, according to Thomson Reuters. That was the last increase for the industry.
The only real strength appears to be from low-end (by price) teen / tween stores, boosted by back to school shopping. Higher end teen / tween stores (i.e. Abercrombie)... not so much.