Retailers report strong sales in February

Luxury goods retailers, discounters and departments reported strong sales for February, according to several reports.

The International Council of Shopping Centers-UBS preliminary sales tally of 69 stores in malls rose 4.9%, much better than the 3.3% increase it had projected. The tally is based on same-store sales, which are sales at stores opened at least a year, considered the best indicator of a retailer’s health.

February’s results were the strongest gain since May 2004, when the tally recorded a 5.4 percent increase, and came on top of a 6.7 percent gain in the year-ago period. In January, the nation’s retailers reported a solid 3.6 percent increase.

Luxury goods stores had a very strong showing, with sales increasing 7.2%.

Wal-Mart reported a 4.1% increase in same-store sales. Target said same-store sales rose 9%.

Sears’ same-store sales in its domestic business rose 1.3%. And Kohl’s enjoyed a 6.1% gain in same-store sales.

But May suffered a 4.1% decline in same-store sales.

Sales at wholesale clubs and discount stores were up 5.8% and 4.9%, respectively; department store sales increased 2.8%; and apparel chain stores rose 1.9%.