Fashion retailers Nordstrom and Abercrombie & Fitch beat analysts' sales expectations for May despite unseasonably cool weather and...

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Fashion retailers Nordstrom and Abercrombie & Fitch beat analysts’ sales expectations for May despite unseasonably cool weather and high gasoline prices. Wal-Mart and Federated Department Stores posted sluggish sales gains.

Strong sales of accessories, handbags, shoes, cosmetics, juniors’ apparel and women’s sportswear helped high-end retailers, Merrill Lynch analyst Stacy Turnof wrote.

Nordstrom saw same-store sales climb 7.4 percent, almost double analysts’ average estimate, boosting its stock 4.4 percent.

The Seattle retailer said sales were strongest in Southern and Southwest regions, while shoppers picked up more junior women’s apparel, accessories and boosted sales in a number of smaller categories, including hosiery and intimate apparel. In stock trading yesterday, Nordstrom shares leaped $2.67 to a 52-week high of $64.02.

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Issaquah’s Costco Wholesale slightly beat analysts estimates, posting a 5 percent bump in same-store sales — on top of a 16 percent gain a year ago. U.S. same-store sales rose 4 percent, with the strongest sales in Texas, the Midwest and Southeast. International sales climbed 12 percent on favorable exchange rates and strong sales in Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

Costco shares advanced $1.06, or 2.3 percent, to $46.62.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.9 percent, smaller than the average monthly gain this year, the International Council of Shopping Centers said yesterday, based on a tally of 67 chains. Sales at Neiman Marcus jumped 10 percent. Wal-Mart had a 2.5 percent increase.

Gasoline prices — near April’s record high — restrained spending. The third straight month of cool weather hurt sales of items such as swimwear and outdoor grills at chains, including Wal-Mart, the largest retailer. Sales at luxury chains surged as upper-income workers benefited the most from April wage gains that were the biggest in eight years.

“The consumer is showing some signs of resilience, but it’s nothing to celebrate,” said David Abella, a New York analyst with Rochdale Investment Management, which has $1.4 billion in assets, including Wal-Mart shares. “There are definitely signs of a slowdown, and gasoline prices remain high.”

But, “The gasoline price was the same for Target as for Wal-Mart,” said Kurt Barnard, president of Retail Forecasting, in Upper Montclair, N.J. “The difference is presentation.”

Target, the No. 2 U.S. discounter, beat analysts’ estimates with a 5.1 percent gain. The Minneapolis retailer has had higher gains than Wal-Mart the past 12 months.

Wal-Mart shares were up 30 cents to $48.22. Target gained 82 cents to $54.65, a 52-week high.

“It’s another ho-hum month for” Wal-Mart, said Lori Wachs, who helps manage about $100 billion at Delaware Investments in Philadelphia. “The strong continue strong, the weak continue weak.”

Teen retailers had another strong month. Abercrombie & Fitch, a casual-clothing retailer, had a gain of 29 percent, double the average estimate. American Eagle Outfitters, which sells apparel at more than 800 U.S. and Canadian stores, posted a 17 percent rise, its smallest gain since last June’s 8.7 percent advance.

Everett’s Zumiez reported a 10.2 percent same-store sales gain, compared with a 6.9 percent gain a year ago.

Zumiez shares gained $1.10, or 4.2 percent, to $27.10, near its 52-week high.

“When you’re a retailer chasing that teen customer base, you’re either on trend or you’re not on trend,” said Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group. “And when you are on trend, you see some good numbers.”

Same-store sales at the Gap, the largest U.S. clothing chain, fell 8 percent. J.C. Penney of Plano, Texas, the No. 2 department-store chain, said sales grew 3.5 percent, better than it forecast.

Information about Costco, Nordstrom and Zumiez provided by Seattle Times retail reporter Monica Soto-Ouchi