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Apparel retailers have mixed results in July

NEW YORK — The nation’s specialty apparel retailers reported mixed results in July, as Hot Topic and Limited Brands turned in strong performances, while Gap and Aeropostale stumbled.

 Hot Topic said its same-store sales rose 7.3% in July. far exceeding the 0.5% rise in analysts’ forecast. Hot Topic said the measure rose 6.2% at its namesake stores and rose 11.8% at its plus-sized Torrid division. The teen retailer also raised its second-quarter outlook.

At Limited Brands, same-store sales rose 6%, compared with analysts’ estimates of 4.2%. Sales were up 9% at Victoria's Secret and 2% at Bath and Body Works.

Aeropostale said that its same-store sales for the second quarter fell 14%, worse than analysts expected. The chain cut its second-quarter outlook.

 Net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2011 decreased 5% to $468.2 million, from $494.7 million in the year-ago period.

“We are very disappointed with our second-quarter financial results that were clearly unacceptable. As a result of a lack of balance in our merchandise assortments, as well as continued promotional and macroeconomic challenges, we significantly increased the depth and breadth of our promotions and markdowns," CEO Thomas Johnson said in a statement.

Gap reported that its same-store sales for July, including online sales, were down 5%. Same-store sales in North America for the company’s core division in fell 6%, worse than analysts expected, but the clothing seller reported total second-quarter revenue that topped Wall Street's forecast. At Banana Republic North America, same-store sales fell 4%, and at Old Navy North America, sales fell 3%. Gap said same-store sales for its international division fell 10%.

In addition, Gap reported net sales for the second quarter, which ended July 30, 2011, increased 2% to $3.39 billion compared with $3.32 billion for the second quarter last year.

“While July proved to be challenging, we’re pleased that we grew net sales for the quarter and that we’re able to guide earnings per share above analyst expectations,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. said Thursday that its same-store sales rose 9% in the second quarter, with increases across all its brands. (Abercrombie no longer reports same-store sales on a monthly basis.) Sales were up 5% at Abercrombie & Fitch stores, 7% at Abercrombie kids stores and 12 % at Hollister Co.

Revenue rose 23% to $916.8 million from $745.8 million for the quarter ended July 30, better than analysts expected. Year-to-date, same-store sales are up 9%. 

In other apparel same-store sales results for July:

  • Ross Stores’ saw its same-store sales increase 7.7% in July, and the company raised its second quarter estimate. The chain said dresses and shoes were its best-performing merchandise categories during the month, while Texas and Florida were its strongest markets.

  • At Zumiez, sales rose 4.9%, short of expectations. Zumiez said shoppers bought more shoes and men's clothing during the period, but sales of accessories and boys clothing were soft. The retailer's total revenue rose 12.3% to $38.7 million.

  • Wet Seal's sales increased 7.4%, easily beating Wall Street's estimate. Sales were up 7.8% for Wet Seal stores and 5 % for Arden B.

  • The Buckle said its sales rose 6.8%, short of analysts' forecasts.

  • Cato Corp.’s sales fell 3%, which the chain attributed to difficult economic conditions for consumers.

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