September Sales Yield Optimism for Holiday Season

Although it was a bit of a mixed bag for retailers after September sales figures were released today, analysts maintain the overall sales growth in September is an encouraging sign as the holiday season beckons.

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Overall September retail sales rose 3.9%, which is much lower than the 6.4% rise in September 2011, according to

But according to the Associated Press, consumer confidence is at a seven-month high as people are feeling better about rising home prices and a rebounding stock market. Job growth remains weak and prices for everything from food to gas are higher.

According to AP, there’s also a worry that the U.S. economy will fall into another recession next year. That’s when tax increases and deep government spending cuts will take effect unless Congress reaches a budget deal.

Limited Brands and Costco posted sales increases for the month, while Target and Macy’s recorded increases lower than Wall Street expectations.

Target’s September sales rose 2.6%, to $6.08 billion. Target also announced it will no longer report monthly sales starting with the first quarter of 2013, which begins in February. Only about 13% of the roughly $2.4 trillion U.S. retail industry reports monthly revenue.

Limited Brands, which operates operator Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and other stores, posted a 5% gain.

Conversely, Macy’s posted a 2.5% increase in September that fell short of analysts’ predictions of a gain of 3.3%. Still, the retailer said combined August-September sales rose 3.6% and ‘‘were consistent with our positive year-to-date trend,’’ said Terry Lundgren, the company’s chairman, in a press release.

Total September sales for American Apparel jumped 10%, while Gap recorded a 6% sales increase for September. Nordstrom saw its September sales rise 4.4%.

Tandy Leather Factory registered a 7% sales increase in September.

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