The nation's major retailers reported Thursday that retail sales rose modestly in June. Financial analysts said sales were helped by an upturn in purchases of big-ticket items and by an easier comparison to a weak showing a year ago.
Americans were more interested in the Fourth of July and Statue of Liberty celebrations than in shopping, and that hindered sales at the end of the period, analysts said. But June is not particularly significant month, they added.
Sears, Roebuck & Co., the nation's largest retailer, said its sales for the five weeks ended July 5 rose 2.8%. Sales rose 8.7% at No. 2 K mart and 4.3% at No. 3 J. C. Penney. Sales jumped 9.5% at Dayton Hudson and 43% at fast-growing Wal-Mart Stores.
Los Angeles-based Carter Hawley Hale Stores, which operates the Broadway, Neiman-Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and other chains, reported that sales increased 7% to $360.5 million from $337 million a year earlier. The company also reported that sales for the first five months of the fiscal year were $1.5 billion, an increase of 4.7% over the $1.432 billion reported for the same period in 1985.
"I don't see a great deal of buoyancy in the sales, despite the easier comparison," said Walter Loeb, a retail analyst with the investment firm of Morgan Stanley.
"I think it was a mixed bag. I think the consumer continues to be very cautious. . . . June reflected some more hard-line sales, as we expected, since the consumer now is starting to furnish homes," Loeb said.
Jeffrey Edelman, an analyst with Dean Witter Reynolds, said: "I can't say there's been a tremendous amount of weakening. But I can't say we saw a pickup."
Edelman, noting that sales were being compared to a disappointing performance a year ago, said, "If we were to compare the numbers relative to May, there was very little change."
He also blamed sluggish employment for part of the latest results.
Jeffrey Feiner, an analyst with Merrill Lynch, said: "On the positive side, we believe the low mortgage rates and increased housing turnover environment aided sales of durable goods.
"On the negative side, most retailers indicated a definite slowing of sales in the last weeks of the reporting period and indicated that this reflected lack of consumer interest in shopping during the weeklong July 4th Statue of Liberty celebrations."
Loeb said the last week of June was the slowest of the month. Major Retailers' Sales in June
In millions Year % of dollars 1986 ago change Sears 2,727 2,652 +2.8 K mart 2,318 2,132 +8.7 J.C. Penney 1,143 1,096 +4.3 Federated* 870.6 839.6 +3.7 Dayton Hudson 822.6 751.4 +9.5 Wal-Mart Stores 917 640 +43 Woolworth 581 532 +9.1 Montgomery Ward 388.9 382.2 +1.8 May Dept. Stores 486 435 +11.7 Assoc. Dry Goods 409.8 389.5 +5.2 Carter Hawley Hale 360.5 337.0 +7.0
*Excludes supermarket sales. Excludes foreign sales.