NEW YORK (AP) — Costco Wholesale Corp. and Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc. were among a handful of retailers that posted weak sales in November on Thursday.
The period included part of the Black Friday shopping weekend, which is the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Many stores opened on Thanksgiving for the first time in an effort to be the first to pull in holiday shoppers in a still tough economy.
The sales figures are based on a key gauge of a retailer's health because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.
Costco and L Brands Inc. joined other retailers like teen retailer The Buckle and discounter Fred's Inc., which posted sluggish sales for November. But the struggles experienced by two of the strongest merchants in the industry underscore the fiercely competitive environment.
Only about 10 retailers report monthly sales and the list no longer includes Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp., and Macy's Inc., which now only release their sales on a quarterly basis.
Analysts closely watch the November and December period since the two months combined account for anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of retailer's annual revenue.
"These reports show that they're going to be in for a bigger dogfight than they had expected," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, a research firm. "They're going to have to step up sales."
Ron Friedman, head of the retail and consumer products group at accounting firm Marcum LLP, noted it was the most promotional Black Friday weekend he had ever seen with many stores offering 50 percent off.
Costco's sales at stores open at least a year rose 2 percent in November