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Apparel Fares Well In September Of 2009

Apparel Fares Well In September

After months of disappointing sales, the apparel sector saw some positive results in September, indicating that the back-to-school shopping season was better than expected.

Discounters, including Ross Stores and TJX, reported solid same-store sales increases, and such specialty apparel and department stores as Gap Inc. and JCPenney fared much better than the year before.

TJX reported a same-store sales increase of 7% for the month of September.

At Ross, the comps increase was 8%. Kohl's saw its comps rise 5.5%. Over at Kohl's rival JCPenney, comparable-store sales were down 1.4%, an improvement over the 12.4% decrease it experienced in the September 2008 period. Even Gap Inc., which has been struggling, saw its comps fall by just 1%, compared with an 11% decline for the prior-year period.

Impact Of Labor Day During Sales Period

It's important to consider the impact of Labor Day falling during the sales reporting period, and that consumers likely waited until the last minute to do their school shopping.

In many areas of the country, children start school after Labor Day, so parents likely used that holiday weekend to take advantage of deals on clothing. And in cases of those children who begin school earlier, they don't need an entire wardrobe before September, so last year's clothes could have sufficed before parents got a chance to snatch up discounted items.

October will likely be a different story, as back-to-school shopping has ended, and consumers are not ready to start spending for the holidays, despite retailers' best efforts to convince them otherwise.

Halloween may offer some opportunity, but it's likely this year will be more about home-made costumes than the latest Miley Cyrus get-up.

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