A group of large U.S. retailers reported higher sales for July, but had to resort to bargains to lure shoppers who are still careful in their spending while the job market continues its slow recovery.
Costco Wholesale said on Thursday that sales at stores open at least a year rose 4 percent last month, below analysts' expectations of a 5.1 percent increase.
U.S. sales at the warehouse club chain got help from members who bought its less-expensive gasoline, while demand for electronics was soft. International same-store sales rose 8 percent, but the strong U.S. dollar had a negative effect.
L Brands, the parent company of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, reported a same-store sales gain of 3 percent for July, beating forecasts for a 1.5 percent rise. It benefited largely from its La Senza chain in Canada.
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Analysts expect a 4.4 percent rise in July same-store sales across the 11 U.S. chains that report this data each month, according to Thomson Reuters. That would be stronger than the 1.4 percent increase in July 2012.
Gap reports after the markets close.
Janney Capital Markets analyst Adrienne Tennant said in a note this week that promotions were "aggressive" in July and noted what she called a big lull in mall traffic.