Ken Perkins

New York -- With only a few exceptions, retailers are posting solid gains in May, with such chains as Target, TJX, Ross and TJX Cos. beating Wall Street forecasts for the month. The Thomson Reuters Same-Store Index, which tracks the stores that release monthly sales reports, is expected to rise 3.6% in May. "Analysts are taking a careful approach to May same-store sales given the cautious tone issued by most retailers on second-quarter earnings guidance," said Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics, in a research report. Despite the caution, analysts are spotlighting some unexpected stars in the specialty store arena.

J.C. Penney is blaming its decision to open later than some competitors on Black Friday as a factor in the chain's same-store sales decline in November. According to a statement by the company, its same-store numbers were tracking ahead of the prior year leading up to the holiday weekend. But "its decision to respect Thanksgiving Day for families and open at 4 a.m. on Friday, as it had in prior years, adversely impacted Black Friday sales. Sales remained soft in-store throughout the holiday weekend." The retailer's online sales fared better with site traffic up 12 percent for the holiday

Nov. 05--Middle- and low-income consumers are turning into "appointment shoppers." When they need something, they will come. But in October, an off month wedged between retail's two busiest times of the year, back-to-school and holiday, shoppers seemed to pause -- especially when warmer weather meant they didn't yet need new coats and sweaters, analysts said. Teen retailers Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters and Aeropostale disappointed, as did department store chains J.C. Penney and Kohl's. But high-end retailers Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue fared better, said Amy Noblin, analyst at Weeden & Co. "Business improved at the

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