The U.S. Commerce Department released its June retail sales figures this week, and the verdict isn't good. Like a kid learning how to ride a bike, American retailers seem to run head-on into a tree every time they build up a little speed. Fortunately for investors, the news wasn't all bad. A handful of companies have managed to ride all the way around the block without taking a trip over the handlebars.
What the report told us
As with all government reports, there's an up and a down. While sales are up 3.8% against last year, they took an unexpected 0.5% fall between May and June 2012. Forecasts of growth were stymied by lower employment and general pessimism. The month-on-month fall represents the third month in a row that sales figures have fallen sequentially.
While the monthly figures have declined, sales continue to be stronger than they were in 2011. The difference in the two growth rates indicates that while the economy is growing, its pace is slowing considerably. In fact, the last time America experienced three straight months of decline was back in 2008, when things were looking their bleakest. The fall caused major firms, including Morgan Stanley, to drop second-quarter 2012 economic growth forecasts.
One of the biggest losers was retail chain Kohl's
Kohl's wasn't the only stain on the face of June retail. Jeans fashion retailer Buckle
These two retailers were in line with the general mood of the Commerce Department report. Sales were down or flat in almost every category, when compared to May. Retailers have also faced a year-on-year battle, as last June was particularly good for many Main Street retailers. Luckily, a few big names managed to buck the trend and do well in June.
Clothing retailer Limited
Ahead of even Ross, we find high-end retailer Nordstrom
The bottom line
Nordstrom is clearly free of its training wheels. The company is posting fantastic numbers so far this year, and has some excellent plans for the rest of 2012. Last week, it announced a partnership with London-based fashion chain TOPSHOP. The line will be featured in 14 Nordstrom locations throughout the U.S. and should prove to be a great new source of revenue for both brands.
While Nordstrom is doing well, it's not hot enough to be The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012. This retailer is making inroads across the world, and the Fool's report details exactly why it's going to continue dominating its space. You can get the report free, for a limited time. Go ahead and get your copy today.
Fool contributor Andrew Marder does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buckle. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.