The nation’s major retailers today posted healthy sales gains for February, reporting they benefited from a continuing turnaround in women’s apparel and renewed demand for other merchandise.
The Limited Inc., the apparel retailer, said sales rose 22% in the four weeks ended Feb. 25 from the year before.
Sears, which Wednesday inaugurated a new low-price policy at all of its more than 800 stores across the country, said sales for the month were up 13.2%.
K mart said its sales for the period were 8.3% higher, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the fast growing discount and general merchandise chain, recorded a 25% hike. J. C. Penney posted a 5.3% increase, and Minneapolis-based Dayton Hudson Corp. said sales were up 11%.
Jeffrey Feiner, a retail analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co., said the results “were slightly ahead of expectations and reflected the continued improvement that was evident during the Christmas and January selling seasons.”
Retail sales are considered an important indicator of consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.
February typically is a low-volume month as merchants prepare for a seasonal shopping uptick in the spring. Nonetheless, analysts detected favorable omens in the latest tallies.
Feiner singled out apparel as a star performer and said women apparently prefer the latest styles after boycotting last year’s fashions.
Store executives said other types of goods also moved out of their stores at an encouraging clip.