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ICSC: August same-store sales climb

Same-store sales for chain stores in the United States rose 1.7 percent in August on a year-over-year basis, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. That’s a smaller gain than was forecast last month, when ICSC chief economist and research director Michael Niemira predicted same-store sales would rise 2 percent.

"The [slower] August sales pace was touched by weakness in the economy, cold and wet weather, a later start to the school year and lean inventories," Niemira said in a statement. "For the industry as a whole, we expect September sales to post an increase of about 2 percent.”

The ICSC tally, jointly produced with financial firm UBS, would have been unchanged from a year ago if not for a strong performance from Walmart, the trade group noted.

The world’s largest retailer beat Wall Street predictions for August sales, as consumers nationwide sought out bargains. Same-store sales rose 3 percent at the retailer, higher than the 1 percent to 2 percent gains Walmart had predicted.

“The underlying business performance for Walmart U.S. continued to show strength, and the improved relative performance has resulted in market share gains,” said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart U.S. president and CEO.

Total company sales rose 8.7 percent to $30.68 billion from $28.22 billion in the year-ago period.

As indicated by the ICSC report, other retailers did not fare as well as Walmart. August same-store sales fell 2.1 percent at Target. The retailer blamed weakness in home products, as well as apparel and accessories, for the decline. The Minneapolis-based company saw net sales rise 3.1 percent to $4.85 billion compared with $4.71 billion last year.

Warehouse retailer Costco saw a bigger jump in same-store sales during the month, up 9 percent. Total revenue jumped 12 percent to $5.41 billion from $4.84 billion a year earlier.

Costco’s strong performance was in large part attributed to fuel sales -- without gasoline-price inflation, same-store sales would have risen 6 percent at the retailer. Additionally, the company saw a weaker performance in international sales, primarily due to currency fluctuations.

The ICSC predicts that same-store sales for all U.S. chain stores will rise by 2 percent in September.