Retailers Expected to Post Robust Sales in February

Did consumers show retailers the love in February? It looks like analysts think so.

Two women walking to car after shopping
Peter Cade | Getty Images
Two women walking to car after shopping

The Thomson Reuters Same Store Sales Index, which tracks the companies that will report monthly sales late Wednesday and early Thursday, is expected to rise 4.8 percent in February. That's on top of last February's 4.0 percent gain.

According to Thomson Reuters, a gain of 3.0 percent is generally a sign of health among U.S. consumers, so 4.8 percent is a strong showing, especially on top of last year's sold gain.

Retail salesare expected to receive a boost from warmer weather, which drove sales of spring merchandise at full price, as well as by Valentine's Day and President's Day sales events.

Consumers have been in a more upbeat mood lately amid signs the economic recovery is on more solid ground. On Tuesday, consumer confidence rose to a one-year high, boosted by an improved outlook for the labor market.

Valentine's Day likely gave the Limited a boost. The company, which operates Victoria's Secret, is expected to post one of the strongest gains. The average analyst estimate calls for a 6.2 percent gain.

As a group, discounters such asCostco are expected to have the strongest results.

If retailers reach these targets, they will have their best sales gains since September.

So far, it looks encouraging. Costco reported its monthly sales when it released its quarterly earningsearlier Wednesday. The wholesale clubstore saw a sales gain of 8.0 percent at stores open at least 12 month, which was higher than Wall Street's estimated gain of 7.6 percent.

A breakdown of the estimates follows:

February 2012 Same-Store Sales Estimates

February 2012 Estimates
February 2011 Actuals
Costco 7.6% 8.0%
Target 5.2% 1.8%
Fred's 0.2% 0.9%
Kohl's Department Store Breakeven 5.0%
Dillards Department Store 2.5% (1.0%)
JW Nordstrom 5.6% 7.3%
Saks Department Store 5.5% 15.3%
Stage Stores 1.5% (7.2%)
Macy's 3.5% 5.8%
Gap (1.4%) (3.0%)
TJX 7.0% 3.0%
Limited 6.2% 12.0%
Ross Stores 4.6% 3.0%
Stein Mart 1.0% 8.2%
Wet Seal (9.0%) 7.0%
The Buckle 5.8% 2.1%
Zumiez 5.1% 12.8%
Walgreen (3.3%) 3.1%
Source: Thomson Reuters; Figures in parenthesis are losses.

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