June's awful retail same-store sales should be no surprise. Both companies and analysts rushed to blame rain and unseasonally cool weather for the worse-than-expected summer malaise. But that attribution is about as bogus as a Milli Vanilli record.

According to Reuters, overall retail same-store sales fell 4.9% in June. With the caveat that one month of same-store sales data is less relevant to investors than a company's long-term comps trends, let's take a look at a few retailers' June numbers:

Company Name

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

June Comps

June Net Sales





Target (NYSE:TGT)




Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF)




Aeropostale (NYSE:ARO)




The Buckle (NYSE:BKE)








*All data from CAPS and MSN Money.

No, I didn't forget any decimal points in Abercrombie's numbers. The once-trendy retailer remains one of the retail world's worst monthly comps performers. Another once-sizzling store, Hot Topic, has also lost steam.

Even discounters Costco and Target don't look too hot. Their biggest rival, Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT), stopped reporting monthly comps recently; we'll just have to wait and see how its sales are holding up.

Two stocks I've long called retail outliers, Aeropostale and The Buckle, are still holding strong, an extremely impressive feat in a nasty month. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that The Buckle's comps increase was a bit disappointing, since it didn't quite meet analysts' expectations of 12% growth. Its mere 9.6% increase broke a whopping 22-month stretch of double-digit gains, but in this kind of environment, I'd say any positive figures still look good.

Why it's no surprise
As I said earlier, investors could have guessed June's comps data would look like this. We already knew that June consumer confidence data was disappointing, and unemployment data remains dismal. Connect the dots.

Taking an even bigger-picture view, American consumers' massive debt burden simply isn't good for retailers. It could take years to recover from our current debt debacle; in the process, consumers might even save themselves to death. I expect plenty of weaker retailers to follow recent casualty Crabtree & Evelyn into bankruptcy, and the resulting shortage of tenants may further hurt malls.

That shouldn't stop cautious investors from shopping around for retail-stock bargains. The strongest retailers, fortified with excellent management teams, plenty of cash, and little or no debt on their balance sheets, could still make solid investments. The Buckle and Aeropostale definitely meet those criteria.

It was a gloomy June, but unfortunately, we can't blame it all on the rain. Should retail investors keep a tight grip on their umbrellas, or do sunnier skies lie ahead? Share your opinion in the comment boxes below.

Costco and Wal-Mart are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Costco is also a Stock Advisor selection, and the Fool owns shares of it. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. The Fool's disclosure policy does all its own singing, thank you very much.