Easter Sales Lay an Egg for Some

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Thanks to Easter's early arrival this year, March retail sales laid an egg for retailers reporting low-single-digit sales gains or a drop in results yesterday. But for others announcing double-digit increases, there was more to celebrate.

J.C. Penney Company Inc., Plano, TX, reported that overall sales for the five weeks ended April 2 totaled $1.57 billion, a 0.8 percent gain over the previous year. Same-store sales for the month inched up 0.1 percent. Also, combined catalog and Internet sales were flat compared with the year-ago period at $261 million.

Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, said sales for the period totaled $1.36 billion, a 3.4 percent increase versus the year-ago period. On a same-store basis, Federated's March sales rose 3.4 percent.

Other companies reporting results yesterday included:

· The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, generated a 2.2 percent increase in revenue, totaling $350 million. Comparable revenue in the specialty retail stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus stores and Bergdorf Goodman, rose 1.6 percent. Comparable revenue in the company's direct division increased 12.6 percent in March.

· Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, posted a 3 percent drop in sales for March, totaling $53.1 million. Comparable-store sales dipped 9 percent. Catalog/direct marketing sales decreased 8 percent to $15.8 million. Internet sales alone decreased 12 percent to $8.7 million.

· The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, reported that sales for the five weeks ended April 2 were $201.7 million, a 4 percent gain over the year-ago period. Same-store sales inched ahead 0.9 percent.

· Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, said sales for the fiscal month ended April 2 totaled $35.4 million, up 18.4 percent from the same period last year. Comparable-store sales rose 3.3 percent.

· Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, recorded a 7 percent decline in comparable-store sales for the five weeks ended April 2. Net sales totaled $766.1 million compared with $783.7 million last year.

· Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, generated a 26 percent jump in sales for the five weeks ended April 2, totaling $129 million. Same-store sales rose 7.8 percent.

· Abercrombie & Fitch Co., New Albany, OH, said net sales for the five weeks ended April 2 totaled $227.5 million, a 34 percent gain over the same period last year. Comparable-store sales increased 21 percent.

Reporting results Wednesday was The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, which posted a 9 percent drop in revenue for the five weeks ended April 2, totaling $46.4 million. Same-store sales declined 12 percent.

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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