NEW YORK – Discount stores and off-price retailers on Thursday posted solid October sales as consumers, overwhelmed by job cuts and a looming recession, steered away from department stores and specialty retailers to try to stretch their dollars further.
``It always comes down to price, selection and service,'' said SunTrust Robertson Humphrey retail analyst Mark Mandel, ''and right now people are placing a little bit more attention on price.''
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, said its October same-store sales rose 6.7 percent from a year earlier, higher than the 4 percent to 6 percent gain it had expected.
Target Corp., the third-largest U.S. discount chain, said its same-store sales for October rose 2 percent, dampened by a weakness in its Marshall Field's department store division, where sales fell 10 percent.
Following on the discount trend were warehouse clubs BJ's Wholesale Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp., as well as off-price apparel retailers Ross Stores Inc. and TJX Cos. Inc., which all posted a rise in sales.
``The discounters continue to offer better merchandise assortments and selections,'' Mandel said. ``It's a very dramatic swing that's going on right now.''
The exception among discounters was Kmart Corp., whose October sales fell 4.4 percent, dampened by the liquidation of more than $52 million of discontinued inventory, which accounted for 2 percent of same-store sales.
Department stores did not fare as well as the discounters last month, with the exception of the moderately-priced Kohl's Corp. which posted a 13.5 percent rise in October same-store sales.
Dillard's Inc. , May Department Stores Co. and luxury department store operator Saks Inc. each posted about a 6 percent decline in sales.
Same-store sales fell 4.4 percent for the month at Sears domestic locations, 8.7 percent at Federated Department Stores Inc. and 9.3 percent at J.C. Penney Co. Inc.'s department stores.
Gap Inc., the No. 1 U.S. apparel chain, said it will post a loss of 5 cents to 7 cents a share before tax charges for the three months ended Nov. 3 as it reported a 17 percent decline in October same-store sales.
AnnTaylor Stores Corp. said its fiscal third- and fourth-quarter earnings will miss expectations after it posted an almost 12 percent decline in October sale store sales.
Women's apparel retailer Limited Inc. and its sister company Intimate Brands Inc., which operates Victoria's Secret stores, each posted a 6 percent sales decline.