The News: Everybody figured September retail sales would be awful, and everybody was right. JC Penney CEO Myron Ullman says shoppers are saving for the holidays. Ever the optimist, Mike.
The Winners: Discounters who sell food. B.J.'s Wholesale Club's September same-store sales, net of fuel, rose 5.6 percent, but the store noted that general merchandise categories such as televisions and toys dropped. Wal-Mart sales were up 2.4 percent, while Costco's rose 6 percent, also net of fuel. Target's still struggling, with same-store sales off 3 percent and persistent rumors that its credit card portfolio is more toxic than feared.
The Losers: Everybody else. "It was even worse than my worst fears," Charles Grom, an analyst with J.P. Morgan Securities, told the Wall Street Journal. Dillard's department stores claimed that hurricanes shaved 3 points off its sales numbers; same-store sales for the Little Rock-based chain dropped 12 percent. Wal-Mart and Neiman Marcus also noted that Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike affected their results.
The Takeaway: Retail analyst Burt Flickinger of Strategic Resource Group told the Journal he predicts 1,000 to 1,500 stores will close in January and February.