Sales fell at many U.S. apparel retailers and warehouse club stores in June as the weak economy and cool, rainy weather dashed interest in summer shopping for consumers across the country.
Costco Wholesale Corp , the top U.S. warehouse club retailer, posted a 6 percent drop in sales at stores open at least one year, in line with expectations, and pointed to tepid demand for such items as cameras and air conditioners.
Demand remained stronger for food items, Costco said, pointing to consumers' cautious spending.
The long recession, growing job losses and tight access to credit had already constrained shoppers, forcing them to seek deep discounts and buy only essential items like groceries and toiletries while largely shunning clothes and home goods.
That has hurt department stores, clothing chains and other retailers, while discounters have gotten a boost.
Obviously, the consumer has been under severe pressure here throughout this recession, said Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins. There just were no catalysts for consumers to spend in June.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc's recent decision to stop reporting monthly sales has made it tougher to judge the industry's performance, analysts have said.
June usually marks the onset of summer weather, when consumers seek out items like light clothing, beachwear and barbecue equipment.
But this June was the second-coolest in 10 years, with record rainfall in cities like New York, Boston and Chicago, weather research firm Planalytics said.
Adding to the pressure, the boost retailers got last year from consumers spending their tax rebate checks was absent this past June.
On the apparel side, Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brands Inc posted a 12 percent drop in same-store sales, below expectations.
Wet Seal Inc posted an 11.1 percent same-store sales drop, worse than expected, and said it would take a conservative stand with inventory for the back-to-school shopping season.
At Goth-inspired apparel retailer Hot Topic Inc , June same-store sales fell 7.2 percent, and it warned that its quarterly loss would be wider than previously expected.
Same-store sales plunged 19.3 percent for snowboarding gear retailer Zumiez Inc . Children's Place Retail Stores Inc posted a 12 percent June same-store sales fall.
The bad weather did not spare even drugstore chains.
Last week, Walgreen Co , one of the largest retailers that still posts monthly sales, said the dismal weather had hurt June sales of seasonal items.
(Additional reporting by Alexandria Sage in San Francisco, Jessica Wohl and Ben Klayman in Chicago and Vidya Lakshmi in Bangalore)