Consumer resiliency appears to be the theme for the month of September as the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the resulting sharp rise in gasoline prices failed to have as strong a negative impact on retail sales results as expected for the month. The increase in gas prices may have even helped the wholesale club channel for the month as more consumers lined up for cheaper fuel.

Based on a monthly survey of 69 chain retailers conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers, overall comp store sales results for September rose 4%, easily surpassing the ICSC’s forecast of a 3% gain, and much better than the 2.4% posted in September last year, which was also impacted by hurricanes.

Wholesale clubs led all channels with a 10% increase for the month, followed by the teen retailer group, which posted a 9.7% increase for the period.

Pacific Sunwear saw fortunes swing back in its favor in September, posting gains at both retail formats. PSUN reported that net sales for September increased 14.8% to $113.7 million, compared to total sales of $99.0 million in the year-ago month. Total company comp store sales increased 5.3% for the month, finishing the last week with a double-digit gain. PacSun same-store sales increased 5.5% and d.e.m.o. same-store sales increased 4.0% compared to the same five week period last year.

Comps were strongest in the Southeast, Northwest, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain/Great Plains areas.

Total comp store transactions were up low-single-digits for the month and the average transaction value per comp store was up mid-single-digits, driven by a low-single-digit increase in average unit retail and a low-single-digit increase in items per transaction.

PacSun guy’s comps were up in mid-single-digits. Guy's comps were driven by basic denim, short-sleeved tees, track jackets, polo’s, and accessories. Girl's comps were up mid-single-digits for the month, driven by strong comps and short-sleeved tees, knit tops, basic denim, and accessories.

d.e.m.o. same-store sales were driven by the continued strength of girl's, which was up in high-teens, offset by the continued weakness in guy's, which was improved from August, but still negative. Knit tops, capris, branded denim, shoes, and accessories continued to drive the girl's business. Guy's comps were strongest in polo’s and were most difficult in tee’s, woven’s, and accessories.

Zumiez Inc. continued to post strong results, with a 26.8% increase in sales for the month to $19.5 million, compared to $15.4 million for the year-ago period. Comparable store sales increased 10.1% for the month on top of a 27.3% gain in September last year. Sales were driven by new stores and a high-single-digit increase in comparable store sales transactions with a slight increase in average unit retail.

The men's business was the strongest positive contributor for the month, but all other departments also had positive comps. ZUMZ ended the month with 158 stores.

The Buckle did have some impact from the hurricanes, attributing a 1.4% comp sales decrease to the storms. Total sales for the month increased 3.0% to $44.7 million from sales of $43.4 million in the year-ago period.

The company had 23 stores directly affected by hurricanes and incurred 153 full days of lost sales from the related store closings. The company estimates that these stores' closures negatively impacted September comparable store results by slightly less than 1.0%. Two stores were closed the entire month due to Hurricane Katrina and remain closed as restoration efforts continue.

Based on data compiled by SportScanINFO, overall athletic comps for retailers in the sporting goods, athletic apparel, and athletic footwear categories were up in low-singles for the period. Aggregate full-line sporting goods results reflected a flat business for the period, while mall specialty sales grew in mid-singles and strip specialty, which includes the family footwear athletic business, increased in the high-singles for the period.

Based on the ICSC data, overall footwear store comps were up just 0.7% for the month, with a 0.6% decline at Payless ShoeSource nearly offsetting the strong 6.5% increase at Shoe Carnival for the month. Shoe Carnival reported that sales for the five-week month increased 10.4% to $51.1 million from sales of $46.3 million for the year-ago period. Total footwear comps were up 6.6% and accessories were up low-single-digits.

Shoe Carnival continues to see fashion athletic provide a very nice lift to its casual business. The total women's business was up in mid-teens and total men's was up “just into double-digits.” The children's business was up high-single-digits, driven by children's athletics. Men's and women's athletics were up low-single-digits.

Management said that fall merchandise sold well, despite the “unseasonably warm weather,” driven by women's dress and casual footwear and men's casual footwear. Comps in the southern tier markets increased high-single-digits for the month and the northern stores increased in mid-single-digits.

Carnival closed two stores during the month, but saw minimal impact from the hurricanes. All the stores affected by Katrina have reopened and all but two of the stores affected by Rita have reportedly reopened.

DSW Inc. reported net sales of $111.9 million for the month, a 13.0% increase over last year's net sales of $99.1 million. September comparable store sales increased 1.1% over the same period last year.

The SportScanINFO data for the month of September revealed a stronger gain for athletic footwear compared to the back-to-school period results reported last week (SEW_0540).

The athletic footwear category led all other categories for the period, increasing in high-singles for the month. Running was up in the teens, led by the Asics GT 2100.
The lifestyle athletic business was also up in the teens.

The data indicated that the athletic apparel business was flat as the strong compression apparel category slowed to a mid-single-digit increase from a string of strong double-digit gains. Fleece was down in the high-teens and outerwear was down sharply.

The sports licensed business was up in mid-singles.

In licensed apparel, jerseys were down in the low teens. Peyton Manning was the number one seller for the month. Total NFL sales went up sharply. NBA sales were down 50% for the month, but MLB sales were up sharply on strong end-of-season pennant races. NHL sales, which probably saw some lift from the start of the season, were down 25% for the month, but much improved from the 80%+ declines the league had been experiencing all year. In licensed accessories, caps were up in low-teens, led by New Era’s NYY on-field cap.

The sporting goods hardgoods business was down in low-singles for the month and the fitness category was also down in low-singles, but golf posted a mid-single-digit increase. Sales of soccer equipment were up sharply and the football category was up in high-singles.