Retailers Post April Sales

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April sales results released yesterday by Spiegel, JCPenney and Federated offered a mix of good and bad news.


The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, reported that April sales fell 2 percent to $205.4 million.


Direct sales fell 1 percent for the month. However, those sales reflect a 76 percent increase in e-commerce sales and a 10 percent decrease in catalog sales.


Same-store results for its Eddie Bauer division fell 10 percent, compared with a 7 percent increase last April.


The retailer, however, got some good news from its Newport News division, which grew 3 percent for the month. But its Eddie Bauer and Spiegel divisions decreased 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.


JCPenney's sales report was a preview of first-quarter results expected to be released next week.


The Plano, TX-based retailer said its same-store sales for April increased 3.8 percent from April 2000. Total department store sales for the month increased 1.8 percent to $1.112 million from $1.092 million last April.


The strongest categories for the month were women's apparel, women's accessories and home furnishings.


Catalog sales decreased 14.7 percent from April 2000. These sales continue to be impacted by the elimination of unprofitable specialty catalogs, the closing of outlet stores and a weak demand from its Spring/Summer big book.


E-commerce sales, which are included in catalog sales, were $18 million in April and $73 million year-to-date, compared with $13 million and $47 million in last year's respective periods.


Penney's total preliminary sales for the month increased 1.4 percent to $2.430 million from $2.397 million in April 2000.


Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, reported total sales of $1.2 billion for the four weeks that ended May 5, which is a decrease of 4.4 percent from $1.3 billion in the previous year's period, reflecting in part a downsizing of its Fingerhut division.


April same-store sales, however, were up 0.8 percent. Federated's chairman/CEO, James Zimmerman, said April sales were at the low end of the company's expectations. A strong performance during the last week of the month, however, helped sales recover from the first three weeks.


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