Spiegel Sales Drop 29% in July

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The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, announced net sales of $99.2 million yesterday during the four weeks ended July 26, a 29 percent decrease from $139.1 million in the four weeks ended July 27, 2002.

Also, for the 30 weeks ended July 26, net sales dropped 22 percent to $939.4 million.

Comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division fell 5 percent in the four-week period and 8 percent in the 30-week period compared with the same periods a year ago.

The Group's net sales from retail and outlet stores fell 17 percent from last year, mainly reflecting store closings and the decline in comparable-store sales. At the end of July, the company's store base was 18 percent lower than last year. Year-to-date, the company has closed 80 Eddie Bauer retail and outlet stores, 18 Spiegel outlet and clearance stores and nine Newport News outlet stores. Most of the closings resulted from the company's ongoing reorganization.

Direct net sales -- catalog and e-commerce -- plummeted 39 percent from last year, "primarily due to lower customer demand, the ongoing negative effect of the company's decision in early March to cease honoring the private-label credit cards issued by First Consumer National Bank to customers of its merchant companies and a planned reduction in catalog circulation," the company said.

Also, Eddie Bauer shifted the mailing of its Ultimate Summer Sale catalog to June this year from July last year, harming direct net sales in July.

In other news:

· Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL, said that comparable domestic store revenue decreased 0.8 percent in the four weeks ended Aug. 2. Total domestic store revenue was $1.9 billion in July, down slightly versus the four weeks ended Aug. 3, 2002.

· Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, posted a comparable-store sales increase of 2 percent for the four weeks ended Aug. 2 compared with the four weeks ended Aug. 3, 2002. Net sales reached $563.2 million versus sales of $529.4 million last year. It also reported a comparable-store sales increase of 1 percent for the 26 weeks ended Aug. 2. Net sales totaled $3.86 billion, up 4 percent from $3.71 billion last year.

· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, achieved net sales of $133.2 million for the four weeks ended Aug. 2, up 6 percent from last year's July sales of $126.2 million. July comparable-store sales fell 11 percent versus the four weeks ended Aug. 3, 2002. Year-to-date, it reported a net sales rise of 9 percent to $702.4 million from $641.9 million last year. Comparable-store sales fell 7 percent year-to-date.

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