The pattern so far this year has consistently been that

if retailers had a decent month last year, the same month

would be so-so this year. But in September, sales were

fairly good on top of a September 2011 that was pretty

robust. Some chains were down from last year, but most

were positive, even if they did not beat expectations.

For instance, Macy’s reported a 2.5% increase in same

store sales in September, off the 3.3% expected growth.

Last September, the chain was up 4.9% in the same month.

And Macy’s is looking at the August/

September period as back to school, during

which same store revenues were up 3.6%..

Many chains did better than what

analysts had projected. TJX Cos., parent

of Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Home Goods

said its September comps climbed 6%; expectations had

been for a 4.4% gain. Ross Stores was up 5%, beating

analysts’ estimate of a 4.3% growth. The company is

sticking with its cautious prediction of a 3% to 4% gain in

October. Target was up 2.1%, just slightly over the expected

2.0% rise in same store sales. Comps were up 5.3% last

September. The company announced that September was

the last month it would release monthly sales figures,

preferring to focus on the longer-term. Costco beat

expectations with its 6% growth in same store sales, but a

bit of the jump was due to fuel price increases. Without

fuel, comps still rose 5%, on top of last September’s 12%.

Some recent losers had a good month.

Expectations are still cautiously optimistic for holiday shopping