December Retail Sales Post-Mortem

Tyler Durden's picture

Following today's sudden realization that the much vaunted December retail sales data, which if one had listened to CNBC in December, would have been left with the "consensus view" that it would be one of the greatest shopping periods in the history of the world, was a dud, here is a complete post-mortem of the various individual retailers and how they fared versus expectations from Goldman's Greg "Chewbacca" Chwatko. 

December same-store sales were broadly in-line with consensus estimates, with several outliers. SSS standouts included Nordstrom and TJX, which beat consensus estimates by 5 pp and 4.5 pp, respectively. Nordstrom’s best categories were Dresses, Jewelry, and Women’s shoes, although geographically California stores remain pressured, with results below the full-line average. TJX saw sales improvements on top of its very strong 14% increase last December; the company raised its 4Q2010 EPS forecast to a range of $0.97 to $1.01, above its previous range of $0.89 to $0.94. The consensus estimate is $0.93. The company also raised its 4Q2010 same- store sales guidance to an increase of 2%, compared with prior guidance of a 1% to 3% decline. TJX highlighted its clean inventories going into the new year.

Gap and Target both missed estimates, with GPS missing by 5.6 pp and TGT missing by 3.1 pp. Gap reaffirmed its FY2010 EPS guidance, but noted weaker traffic in December, with the weakest results out of the Northeast. Target also reaffirmed its same-store sales growth expectations, and noted that while the Grocery and Apparel categories were strong, it saw weakness in its Electronics, Toys and select Home categories. These weaker categories are mostly bigger ticket and more seasonal products, illustrating a slightly more cautious consumer this holiday season. Target also saw some mix-shift into lower margin items.

Kohl’s raised the lower end of its EPS forecast to a range of $1.62 to $1.66 for 4Q2010, above its prior range of $1.58 to $1.66. The consensus estimate is $1.64. Management noted that transactions per store increased, although transaction values were lower. KSS’ strongest results were in the Southeast. Macy’s reiterated its expectations that 4Q2010 same-store sales will increase 3.5% to 4.5%, with EPS in the range of $1.44 to $1.49. The consensus estimate is $1.52. Management noted that results were strong despite the heavy snow in the Northeast.

J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s all called out strength in online sales during the month, with Kohl’s online sales up 66%. The strength in online was expected, owing to the snowstorms on the east coast keeping shoppers home on the day after Christmas.

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cadejludwig's picture

Why isn't there a graph of Exxon's December retail figures Tyler? 

JLee2027's picture

Because Exxon is not a retail store.

nmewn's picture

Thanks for this...I'm re-thinking my Orlova vote ;-)

New_Meat's picture

dang-I've been on another thread-and yet here we are snarking!

Happy New Year to you and your family-espicially the football playas'


nmewn's picture

LOL...Happy New Year to you & your's.

"espicially the football playas'"

My Noles did good, considering. We own the state...and the cherry on top was getting to watch Steve "Superior" throw his game plan all over the field ;-)

jm's picture

"Target saw some mix-shift into lower margin items."

Is mix-shift a pre-season inventory decision or unanticipated sales pattern?



chrisd's picture

Is it any wonder that TJ Maxx and Nordstrom's beat? The rich keep shopping and everyone else went to the discount store.

Don Birnam's picture

<< TJ Maxx...The rich...>>

TJ Maxx is an operating subsidiary of TJX Companies...which began its corporate life as Zayre's. In terms of wares, perhaps a quote from "The Lost Weekend" sizes it up: "Brand ? You know what brand. None of that 12-years aged-in-the-wood chichi. The cheap stuff !"

HarryWanger's picture

We had our best Q4 and holiday sales in our company's history. I know we're a small consumer discretionary but honestly, we saw this all through our retail and supply chain.

We have huge margins on most everything we sell. However, we did see a noticeable shift to lower priced items over the past couple of years. This year, we saw the same shift during the holidays but sold much more merchandise.

Conclusion: Consumer will spend on discretionary items but is still not willing to put out the big bucks like pre-2008. 

Boilermaker's picture

<rolling eyes with vomit pooling in back of throat>

hardcleareye's picture

I did not need that visual!!!  That is just plain rude!!! lol

hardcleareye's picture

We have all been curious as to what Harry sells that is so "desired" in this economy.

I think you are on to something,

"We have huge margins on most everything we sell."  Sure describes "adult entertainment"(toys and porn).  With regards to  "big ticket items"...  that must mean his is not be selling to many "sex machines"....

Hephasteus's picture

Rubber fists and calculators. H&R BlockParty Puff-in-Stuff. For all your professional accounting needs.

cclaeys's picture

selling 1/8ths instead of ozs?

Cursive's picture



I know we're a small consumer discretionary but honestly, we saw this all through our retail and supply chain.


Bullshit con artist James K.  Guess you are back from college break?

Richard Head's picture

Wanger is so full of shit.  Not one shred of evidence that he owns anything that's not in his Mom's basement, let alone a trading account.

Hephasteus's picture

Ya but you can't hurt his feelings if he's using a manufactured bullshit persona. Unfortanately if you do accept him or praise him the good gets tossed in the trash right along with the bad.

Rainman's picture

Nordies " California stores remain pressured ". hmmm....will check Mrs. Rainman's bill. She says she hasn't been there all year. Maybe she's been telling the truth.

One_Eyed_Pony's picture

Holiday Shopping numbers were so good, retailers will be starting the XMAS shopping season on July 4th!  WooHoo

But Ut Oh, all those super tax breaks/tax credit laws Capital Hill gave Big Biz to write losses off on the previous 5 years of gains is coming to a head soon. Then where will the Book cooking come from?


Buttcathead's picture

Rich folks dont shop.  They just sell stocks to the Fed.   Bernack will buy anything.

bob_dabolina's picture

Rich guys bought nice shit for their women.

Poor guys trimmed back on shit.

This guy is pretty smart.

RobotTrader's picture

XRT broke off today.  Could be the start of something.  Commodity collapse and dollar strength might be a harbinger of a coming correction in equities.

hardcleareye's picture

 This can't be Robo Trader!!! Robo Trader, were is your Mom? Has she taken over your computer and is she now posting for you????

Cursive's picture


Yeah, but did you sell all your longs?

cclaeys's picture

fak no - selling covered calls to the folks at the retirement home, ran out of those franklin mint coins.

Astute Investor's picture

Such an environment should create more potential restructuring situations in the future.  Looks like you stepped in shit with the new job!

Tapeworm's picture

I am continually amazed at the dorks that neg even the obvious truths that RobotTrader puts up.

 The weenie wankers of the precious metals, and especially the silverbugs are getting silly. In several posts of mine I have pointed out just how highly priced silver is now, yet there is always a yelp to exhort some penny ante players here to buy a retail coin or slug that will supposedly  wipe out a bank that has unlimited funds by way of the central gombit that refused to do anything to JPM when they were broke, and when they cook their books in no mark to market.

 All of the action in silver is done by the NY hedge funds that the one ouncers decry. It took one hell of a lot more fiat from the NY hedgies to jack silver from 15 bucks to double that in a few months. ZH has allowed a great number of cheerleaders to take over the realistic precious metals strings.

 I am not too interested in hundreds of comments from retail PM buyers that might have five K'rands and fifty silver ouncers.

 Now if those of modest means did make good comments then I'd be lauding them.

 The way that I see it is that the funds that ramped silver up are partially selling it down. Unless this is the end of the financial system ripoffs of we plebes, we will see some terrifying prices- mostly down.

 In 1964 a good 35mm SLR with two decent lenses cost a minimum of $400 usd, or 557 ounces of silver. A decent Nikon DSLR with a couple of zooms now costs 44 ounces of silver, or 62 dollars in silver coin of 1964. (the gombit and central bank stole all of the price deflation for themselves to feast upon)

 Look at foods in silver, or most anything else in ag goods or manufactures. I'd rather spend silver bullion now when prices are insanely low in Ag rather than buying some vastly overpriced silver rounds.

JR's picture

I liked this graf from Reuters fess-up article today that many mainstream retailers reported disappointing December sales that show “consumers have still not returned to spending habits seen before the financial crisis and that they will continue to be frugal”:

“The International Council of Shopping Centers forecast same-store sales will rise 2.5 percent to 3 percent in January and 3 percent to 3.5 percent of 2011.  Chief Economist Michael Niemira said discount chains would see big gains, partly because of higher food prices.”

With inflation running more than 8% when figured by the SGS-Alternate Consumer Inflation Index that reverses gimmicked changes to official CPI reporting methodologies back to 1980, it’s clear Jim Willie, CB, editor of the Hat Trick Letter has got it right:

“In the next chapter (of cheap money), future price inflation will be called economic growth.”


docj's picture

Again, none of this will matter once The Bureau of Making Shit Up prints upwards of +500K for NFP this morning.