September solid for discount retail, mixed for others

Retail sales in September decelerated from August at many of Walmart’s competitors, but overall demand remained positive judging from the shrinking number of companies who continue to report monthly results.

Discounters The TJX Cos. and Ross Stores reported September same-store sales that rose 6% and 5%, respectively. The figures exceeded both companies’ expectations and shoppers continue to respond to their brand of apparel retail.

"The primary driver of our favorable business trends year-to-date remains our ongoing focus on delivering fresh and exciting assortments of name brand bargains that continue to resonate with today's value-focused consumers," said Ross CEO Michael Balmuth.

TJX CEO Carol Meyrowitz said her company ended September with great momentum, "which bodes well for the rest of the fall as well as the 2012 holiday selling season, which we believe will be terrific for TJX."

Another key Walmart competitor, Gap Inc.’s Old Navy division, reported a 10% increase in September comps. Gap stores in North America increased 5% and Banana Republic advanced 4%.

"In September, strong customer response to trend-right product across all brands helped us deliver continued positive performance in North America," said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap Inc.

On the flip side, Macy’s and Kohl’s results were lighter than expected. Macy’s said comps increased 2.5% while Kohl’s declined 2.7%.