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SAN FRANCISCO-Locally based clothing retailers Gap Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. both revealed an increase in November sales compared to the same year-earlier period but Ross Stores clearly turned in the better performance. Ross Stores reported a 12% jump in November sales, including an 8% spike in same-store sales, while Gap Inc.’s same-store sales were flat and overall sales rose by just 2.1%. The results compare to a o.3% drop in November sames-store sales for all chain stores, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ Chain Store Sales Index .

Gap Inc. operates 3,143 stores. Its same-store sales were flat despite 6% same-store growth in its Old Navy unit thanks to a 4% drop in same-store sales for both Gap North America and Banana Republic. International same-store sales fell 5%. Overall sales for Gap Inc. in November were $1.42 billion, up from $1.39 billion in the same 2008 period. Year-to-date, Gap Inc. overall sales were $11.38 billion, down 4% from the same 2008 period. In the third quarter, which saw the company produce a 25% increase in profit year-over-year, sales rose 0.8% and held to the same trend – same-store sales for Old Navy rose 10% while Gap and Banana Republic saw same-store sales fall by 7% and 6%, respectively.

Ross Stores, which operates 1,008 stores, rung up $635 million in sales in November, up 12% from $568 million for the comparable 2008 period on an 8% jump in same-store sales. Moreover, it expects another mid-single-digit jump in same-store sales in December and again in January. Year-to-date, Ross sales totaled $5.839 billion overall, up 10% from the comparable 2008 period, while same-store sales rose 5%.

The International Council of Shopping Centers’ Chain Store Sales Index shows a 0.3% drop in November same-store sales for 32 reporting chain retailers. The decline comes after two months of increases for the industry despite a relatively easy year-over-year comparison.

“These data suggested that the holiday season got off to a weak start in November for retailers–though the tail-end of the month saw relatively strong sales for electronics and online spending, but that seemed to be at the expense of some in-store performance and apparel demand, in particular,” wrote ICSC chief economist and director of research Michael P. Niemira.

Department store sales dropped 4.5%, with luxury stores declining 6.9% and the teen segment down 5.5%. Discounters rose 0.6%. Drugstores rose 2.3%. Wholesale clubs reported a 1.9% increase.

Another local chain, Cost Plus, joined Ross in out performing the index. The locally based retailer of “casual home furnishings” this week said same-store sales in November jumped 4.9% on a big increase in traffic in California, the company’s largest and most mature market. The company reported a 9.1% drop in same-store sales in the third quarter.

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