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Retail Sales Prep: Staying Positive Ahead of the Holidays

Wednesday, 3 Nov 2010 | 12:54 PM ET

Although retailers are expected to report monthly sales gains that are below last year's levels, there still should be some bright spots in the report that bode well for the upcoming Christmas holiday shopping season.

Thomson Reuters said that on average retailers are expected to log a 1.6 percent sales gain at stores open at least a year in October, slightly below October 2009's 1.8 percent gain.

Still, positive growth is likely in most retail sectors, except drugstores Walgreen and Rite-Aid . Walgreen should see its monthly same-store sales fall 0.5 percent, while Rite-Aid's same-store sales probably will be in line with last year's.

While spending still remains tempered by concerns about the weak job market and high unemployment, there were some signs of more discretionary spending. Teen apparel retailers are expected to be the second strongest retail sector, which suggests shoppers are feeling a bit more comfortable about their spending.

Separately, Mastercard Advisors' SpendingPulse survey saw higher spending on women's apparel, another category that is more discretionary.

But weather could play a role. According to Thomson Reuters analyst Jharonne Martis-Olivo, department stores—which include Macy's ,JCPenney , and Kohl's , among others—may have been forced to ramp up promotional activity toward the end of the month.

Within the department store sector JW Nordstrom is expected to post the biggest same-store sales gain.

A complete breakdown of the estimates follows:

October Same-Store Sales Estimates

Retailers October 2010 Estimates October 2009 Actuals
Costco 4.6% 5.0%
BJ Wholesale 2.3% (1.1%)
Target 1.5% (0.1%)
JC Penney 1.0% (4.5%)
Kohl's Department Store 2.3% 1.4%
Dillards Department Store (1.0%) (8.0%)
JW Nordstrom 2.7% 6.5%
Saks Department Store 2.0% 0.7%
Stage Stores 1.5% (0.1%)
Bon-Ton Breakeven (4.6%)
Macy's 1.6% 4.3%
Gap (2.4%) 4.0%
TJX (0.9%) 2.0%
Limited 6.1% (4.0%)
Ross Stores 0.8% 9.0%
Stein Mart (1.0%) (4.9%)
Abercrombie 5.6% (15%)
American Eagle 1.4% (5.0%)
Aeropostale 3.1% 3.0%
Hot Topic (3.2%) (2.6%)
Wet Seal (3.8%) (1.3%)
The Buckle 1.3% 4.3%
Zumiez 7.7% 8.9%
Source: Thomson Reuters; Figures in parenthesis are losses.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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