Direct-to-Consumer Sales Offer Bright Spot in March Results

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Results from direct-to-consumer efforts provided a bright spot in March for several multichannel merchants otherwise reporting sluggish results for the month yesterday.


J. C. Penney Company Inc., Plano, TX, said company sales increased 0.7 percent for five weeks ended April 1 for a total of $1.548 billion. Same-store sales decreased 1 percent during the same period. However, direct sales increased 5 percent for a total of $274 million, with both print media and the Internet showing delivering improved performances. Internet sales through jcp.com continue to represent the company's fastest growing sales channel and increased 25 percent in March.


The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, TX, generated a 5.6 percent increase in comparable revenues at its specialty retail stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, for the five weeks ended April 1. By comparison, comparable revenues at Neiman Marcus Direct for the five-week period rose 19.2 percent. The company's overall revenues increased 11.2 percent for a total of $389 million.


Also, JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, reported a 20.6 percent increase in combined catalog/Internet sales for the fiscal month ended April 1. Comparable-store sales, in comparison, rose just 4.4 percent during the same period. The company's overall sales rose 17.2 percent for a total of $41.5 million.


Other companies reporting results:


· The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, experienced a 3 percent decrease in company sales for fiscal March, the five weeks ended April 1, for a total of $195.4 million. Same-store sales decreased 3.4 percent for the month.


· Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, saw company sales decline 26 percent during the month ended March 31 for a total of $39.1 million. Same-store sales decreased 29 percent during the same period. Also, catalog/direct marketing sales decreased 30 percent for a total of $11.1 million and Internet sales decreased 25 percent for a total of $8.7 million.


· Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, reported sales increased 64.7 percent for the five weeks ended April 1 for a total of $2.257 billion. On a same-store basis, Federated's March sales were flat. Federated's March total sales include the May Company acquisition, which was completed Aug. 30, 2005. Same-store sales include only Macy's and Bloomingdale's locations.


· Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, said preliminary sales for the five weeks ended April increased 7 percent for a total of $703.1 million. Same-store sales increased 4.3 percent during the same period.


· Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, generated a 3 percent increase in net sales for the five weeks ended April 1 for a total of $788.2 million. Same-store sales increased 2 percent during the same period.


· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, reported net sales increased 13 percent for the five week period ended April 1 for a total of $256.7 million. Same-store sales were flat for the month.


· Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, experienced a 21.9 percent increase in sales for the five weeks ended April 1 for a total of $157.3 million. Same-store sales increased 8.4 percent during the same period.


Reporting results late Wednesday was The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, which said revenue for the five-week period ended April declined 2.1 percent for a total of $45.4 million. Same-store sales decreased 1.7 percent during the same period. Revenue from non-store activity was 8.2 percent for the month compared to 7.4 percent for the same period last year.


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