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Retailers see slow start to back-to-school season


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Helen Gym, 45, who has three children, ages 16, 14 and 10, said back-to-school clothing is not a top priority. Gym, whose children go to Philadelphia public schools, said the fiscal crisis there is forcing parents to pay for more supplies, which could mean books.

"We’re doing what we can afford and we are trying to be thoughtful," said Gym, who works part-time for a community organization. "I stopped doing the massive back-to-school (shopping) thing."

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Against this background, Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, expects that total sales for the back-to-school season will rise 3.1 percent from last year to $42.2 billion. That would be less than the 3.6 percent gain in 2012, but near the 3.3 percent average annual increase for the past 10 years.

Families with school-age children are expected to spend an average of $634.78 on clothing, shoes, supplies and electronics, down from $688.62 last year, according to a survey of about 5,600 shoppers from the National Retail Federation that was conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Costco said Thursday its U.S. and international revenue each rose 4 percent in the four-week period that ended Aug. 4, a performance that fell short of Wall Street estimates. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected, on average, revenue growth of 5.1 percent for the total company and 4.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, from the U.S. and international portions

Among the bright spots in the reports was L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works. The retailer said that revenue at stores open at least a year rose 3 percent in July, better than expected, and the company raised its second-quarter earnings outlook. Analysts expected a 1.5 percent increase for the four weeks ended Aug 3.




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