April 6, 2017 / 5:47 PM / 4 months ago

Troubled U.S. shopping-mall retailer stocks rally after L Brands' sales report

2 Min Read

SAN FRANCISCO, April 6 (Reuters) - Shares of beaten-down shopping-mall retailers bounced back on Thursday after March sales figures from L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, were not as bad as feared.

L Brands jumped 10.4 percent after it said March same-store sales dropped 10 percent but that a later Easter holiday this year accounted for as much as 3 percentage points of that decline.

That raised hopes that slumping sales may be hitting a floor in the brick-and-mortar retail industry, said Kelly Halsor, an analyst at Buckingham Research.

"Sentiment was so negative and L Brands was a perfect example," Halsor said. "People were thinking it would be much worse."

Many stores benefit from gift shopping at the Easter holiday, which this year falls in April and last year fell in March.

Malls across the United States are struggling with dwindling foot traffic, with thousands of stores closing as consumers spend more online or use their money to pay down debts and save.

Also on Thursday, Bed Bath & Beyond jumped 3.5 percent and was heading for its best session since December after it reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Apparel retailers also rose, with Nordstrom up 4 percent, Kohl's adding 6.4 percent, Gap Inc jumping 5.8 percent, and Bebe Stores rising 3.4 percent.

L Brands remains down 28 percent in 2017 and Kohl's has fallen 19 percent. Bed Bath & Beyond has dropped 20 percent in the past 12 months. (Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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