U.S. retailers fear sales decline despite reports of strong January sales

Spending in the U.S. is expected to slow as retailer's winter clearance deals dry up, and as Americans begin to digest rising gas prices and a 2 percent payroll tax hike that started in January.
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO Published: February 8, 2013
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Cato Corp., which sells women's and girls' clothing, said sales worsened throughout the month because of delays in tax refunds and the hit to their income from higher payroll taxes.

As a result, the company said revenue dropped 12 percent in January.

Macy's, which runs Bloomingdale's and Macy's stores, said revenue rose 11.7 percent in January, nearly doubling the 6.4 percent increase analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected. And the retailer raised its fourth-quarter adjusted earnings forecast due to its strong performance in January.

Gap Inc., the owner of the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains that has struggled to regain its relevance, said its January revenue rose 8 percent on strength in its North American stores.

That's above the increase of 4 percent Wall Street expected.

Meanwhile, Target Corp., a discounter that sells everything from clothes to home goods to groceries, reported a solid 3.1 percent increase in revenue, helped by strong sales of clearance items. That beat the 1.7 percent estimate from Wall Street.