Wal-Mart Sees Sales Rise on Back-to-School

Wal-Mart posted a 3.1 percent increase in U.S. same-store sales, excluding fuel sales, much stronger than the 1 percent to 2 percent growth it projected last month. The company said back-to-school shopping drove sales, with notable strength in electronics, school supplies, and children’s apparel.

The company's namesake stores saw a 2.8 percent increase in same-store sales, while Sam’s Club posted 5.2 percent growth. By comparison, warehouse club rival Costco Wholesale Corp. posted a much weaker-than-projected 2 percent increase, as U.S. same-store sales rose 1 percent.

As for other retailers, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. trumped expectations with a 9.6 percent increase and Buckle Inc. topped already high estimates with a 17 percent jump in August same-store sales. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. and Zumiez Inc. also smashed analysts’ expectations.

Meanwhile, Limited Brands Inc., parent of Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, reported a 1 percent increase. Gap Inc. posted a narrower-than-projected 1 percent decline, with its namesake stores in North America and the Banana Republic chain posting higher same-store sales.

Macy’s Inc. topped its forecast with sales growth of 2.4 percent. The company had projected August same-store sales to be down 1 percent to up 2 percent. Macy’s sees September sales down 1 percent to 3 percent, as the year-earlier period was aided by the company's nationwide launch of the Macy’s brand.

Kohl's Corp. reported a 0.6 percent decline, with chairman and CEO Larry Montgomery noting that while back-to-school sales went well, “demand in other areas of the business such as home, men’s, and women’s slowed vs. their year-to-date trend.”