Belk, other retailers, post solid gains
Aug 30, 2012 (Menafn - The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Charlotte-based Belk Inc. reported higher sales and profit Thursday for its second quarter, as the department store chain completed store remodels and opened an e-commerce center.
Also Thursday, a group of large national retailers reported their sales rose in August. The 18 companies, including Target and Macy's, said their sales for the month were up 6 percent, according to the trade group International Council of Shopping Centers.
The federal government also released data Thursday showing that consumer spending in July rose at the fastest rate in five months.
The 18 retailers' report beat Wall Street analysts' estimates from the beginning of the month. They had expected growth of 4 to 5 percent.
The rise in spending during August was bolstered in part by back-to-school shopping, a major economic driver.
"It's certainly strong on the surface. But is it a sign of an improving economy and retailing environment? Or is it just more of the same: Shoppers were driven by need," Michael Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, told The Associated Press.
At Belk, sales rose 4.3 percent, to 868 million, compared with the same quarter a year ago. Net income was up 9.6 percent, at 27.4 million. Sales at stores open a year or more, considered a key measure of a retailer's health, rose 6.2 percent.
"This marked our tenth consecutive quarter of comparable store sales growth," said Belk CEO Tim Belk in a statement. "The results are aided by investments in the business, including branding, store remodels, technology and a program on service excellence, each of which is significant."
The retailer also opened a 515,000-square-foot center in Union County to handle e-commerce orders. The 4.5 million center is the company's second such facility.
Belk also has renovated or is renovating many of its older stores, including locations at SouthPark, Carolina Place and the Rock Hill Galleria. Belk operates 303 stores, most of them in Southern states.
The Associated Press contributed
Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
___ (c)2012 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Visit The Charlotte
Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com Distributed by MCT
Copyright (C) 2012, The Charlotte Observer