The retails in the US seem to be turning the tide from total pessimism to somewhat of a balanced growth, at least for a larger number of retailers reflecting a sign of grin. Though in January, the general outlook was discouraging, if not depressing, with only some very few retailers reporting anything between marginal to reasonable growth; their numbers have increased during February 2009. Let us have a quick look at the retail performance in the US during February, 2009.

First, those who defied downturn and registered positive growth. Music-influenced apparel retailer Hot Topic has posted a 13.7% rise in February sales to $57.3m at its Hot Topic and Torrid concepts. Sales climbed 13.8% to $44.1m at Hot Topic, and increased 13.4% to $13.2m at Torrid. Same-store sales were up 10.8%, the company said. Zumiez, which sells action sports related apparel and footwear from 345 stores, reported a 0.2% increase in its sales for the four weeks to 18 February, to $23.1 m. Same-store sales, however, fell 13.4%. Fashion retailer, The Buckle bucked trends with a 27.5% hike in net sales for the four weeks to 28 February, to $63.3m from $49.6m a year earlier. Same-store sales increased 21.0%. Bakers Footwear Group also posted a rise in revenues, with net sales up 10.6% to $13.9m from $12.6m. The firm, which sells women's fashion footwear through 239 Bakers and Wild Pair stores, said February same-store sales rose 12.8%.

Youth apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters posted a 1 % rise in total sales for February, $177.2m from $175.1m last year. Comparable store sales were down 7% for the month. The company operates 953 American Eagle Outfitters stores, 116 Aerie by American Eagle stores, 28 Martin + Osa stores, and 77kids By American Eagle. Aeropostale, the mall-based specialty re of casual and active apparel, reported a 23% jump in total net sales in February. Sales rose to $109.9m from $89.7m. Same store sales increased 11% for the month. American Apparel lnc, the manufacturer and retailer of branded fashion basics, said its total retail sales increased 17% for the month of February to $24.3m, up from $20.8m last year. Same-store sales fell 9%. Warm weather boosted sales at value-priced women's wear retailer The Cato Corporation. For the month of February its sales were up 11% to $74.7m from $67.2m, and comparable store sales rose 8% over the prior year.

Ross Stores delivered "better-than-expected sales in February," with revenues up 7% to $476m from $444m. Comparable store sales grew 1%. Dresses and shoes were the best performing merchandise categories, the company said. Total sales at Kohl's Corporation rose 3.6% percent to $1.006bn in February, up from $971.6m a year earlier. On a comparable store basis, sales fell 1.6%. The company, which operates 1,004 department stores, said regular price sales offset lower levels of clearance sales. Discounter Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest retailer, posted a 2.8% rise in total company sales in the four weeks to 27 February, to $30.02bn from $29.19bn last time. Results were helped by an 8.1% rise in Walmart US sales, which helped offset a 10.8% drop in international sales which the company blamed on unfavourable exchange rates. Total US same-store sales excluding fuel were up 5.1%.

There were, however, quite a good number of losers. Important among were:

Apparel and footwear retailer Stage Stores its total sales drop 4.7% to $100.9m in February, down from $105.9m in the same month last year. Comparable store sales fell 8.6%, which the company said was due to less clearance inventory. Dresses, intimate apparel, men's and petites categories all performed better than the company average. February sales at Destination Maternity were down 6.6% to $42.7m from $45.7m last year. Comparable store sales dropped 3.5%. The maternity wear retailer, which operates 1,090 retail locations, said it managed to lower inventory levels and markdowns and improved gross margins. The Wet Seal, which sells fashions for young women, reported a 5.8% drop in February sales to $39.8m. Comparable store sales were down 6.6%, with a 5.6% fall at Wet Seal stores, and an 11.5% drop at Arden B. Lower price points at Arden B improved regular price sell-through in February, the company said.

Limited Brands, operator of the Victoria's Secret, La Senza and Henri Bendel stores, posted a 10.8% drop in sales for the four weeks to 28 February, down to $547 .8m from $614.4m a year ago. Same-store sales dropped 7% for the period. February sales at The Children's Place Retail Stores were down 1% to $110.4m from $111.4m in the same month last year. Consolidated comparable retail sales were flat, with a 3% decline in US same-store sales and a 2% rise in Canada. E-commerce sales were up 50%. Off-price retailer Stein Mart said its February sales fell 12.5% in February to $84.1m from $96.1m in the same period last year. Same-store sales dropped 12.2%. The best performing businesses were ladies' casual sportswear and dresses, while the most difficult were ladies' career sportswear and gifts.