Penney Catalog Sales Slide 24.7 Percent in August

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Catalog sales plummeted 24.7 percent at J.C. Penney Company Inc., Plano, TX, during the four weeks ended Aug. 24 as the company cited "continued weakness in consumer demand" as part of its August sales results announced yesterday.

It also reported that comparable department store sales for the four-week period rose 2.9 percent.

Department store sales totaled $1.236 billion in the period, up from $1.205 billion in the comparable period ended Aug. 25, 2001. Catalog sales in the four weeks ended Aug. 24 totaled $186 million, down from $247 million during the year-ago period. Total company sales during the recently ended period reached $2.509 billion compared with $2.484 billion in the year-ago period.

For the 30 weeks ended Aug. 24, department store sales totaled $7.665 billion, up from $7.558 billion in the year-ago period; catalog sales dropped 23.5 percent, to $1.386 billion from $1.812 billion; and total company sales reached $17.435 billion compared with $17.218 billion in the year-ago period.

In other news:

· The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, said that sales during the four weeks ended Aug. 31 increased 1 percent to $90 million from $88.9 million in the four weeks ended Sept. 1, 2001. Comparable-store sales fell 4.1 percent in the month, driven in part by low inventory. Year-to-date sales during the 30 weeks ended Aug. 31 dropped 3 percent to $851.7 million from $874.3 million in the 30 weeks ended Sept. 1, 2001. Comparable store sales fell 8.2 percent for the year-to-date period.

· The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, posted sales of $149.6 million during the four weeks ended Aug. 24, a 21 percent decrease from $188.7 million in the same four-week period last year. For the 34 weeks ended Aug. 24, sales fell 17 percent to $1.359 billion from $1.635 billion in the same period last year. The company also reported that comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division dropped 18 percent in the four-week period and 14 percent for the 34-week period ended Aug. 24. Eddie Bauer retail sales for August reflect the "impact of significantly lower clearance activity due to better inventory control as well as lower customer traffic compared to last year." Sales results by division for August show a decline of 13 percent at Eddie Bauer, 26 percent at Newport News and 33 percent at Spiegel Catalog. Sales results for Spiegel Catalog and Newport News "continue to reflect the effects of more restrictive credit-granting measures taken in the company's private-label credit card business, which is aligned with their strategies to attract and retain higher-quality credit customers." Sales were also affected by lower catalog circulation. Sales from the Group's e-commerce channel were "even for the month." Total direct sales fell 25 percent, and the Group's retail store sales dropped 16 percent.

· The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, said that total revenue for the four weeks ended Aug. 31 reached $190 million, down from $194 million in the comparable period ended Aug. 25, 2001. Also in the four-week August period, comparable revenue in the Specialty Retail Stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, fell 5.4 percent. Comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct in the four-week August period rose 3.3 percent. Supported by strong sales in the tabletop, furniture and decorative home categories, the Horchow catalog was the best performer of the three Direct brands.


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