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More winners than losers in July comps

New York - Ten of the 13 retailers tracked by HTT for monthly same-store sales reported gains for July.

Although Dillard's was the one of the biggest gainers with comps up 6.0%, sales in the home and furniture category were significantly below trend.

However, Duckwall-Alco cited domestics as among several categories that contributed to its 10.6% same-store sales gain.

Ross Stores turned in better-than-expected July and second-quarter sales with monthly comp up 5.0%, although home was not singled out as a driver.

Once again exceeding expectations in July was Macy's, which attributed its 6.7% comp increase to strong store and online sales at both Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

Online sales for macys.com and bloomingdales.com combined were up 36.7% in July and 39.2% in the first half of 2011. The company's online sales positively affected its same-store sales by 1.3 percentage points in the year to date.

Target's July sales were "at the high end of our expected range," said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and ceo. The boost was driven by commodity while the home business was down slightly overall.

The TJX Companies said its 4% consolidated comparable store sales increase in July exceeded expectations.

Same-store sales were up 5.0% in The Marmaxx Group, its largest division, where comparable store sales increased 5% in July. HomeGoods' comps were up 3.0% in July, over a 6.0% comp increase in the same period last year. "We believe we have many great opportunities ahead at HomeGoods," the company said.

In its Canadian division, which includes Winners and HomeSense, home outperformed apparel last month.

Home was not cited among best performing merchandise divisions in July at JCPenney, where comps rose 2.0%.

Rival Kohl's posted a 4.6% comp decline following a strong performance in June.

But overall gross margins were better than planned, said ,Kevin Mansell, chairman, president and ceo. "Early indications of customer reaction to higher apparel prices are in line with our expectations in terms of unit demand."

The Johnson Redbook, which tracks stores across a variety of channels, said aggregated comps were up 4.6% in July after gains of 6.9% in June and 5.4% in May. Among the retailers Redbook tracks, 75% posted positive gains.

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