October a Mixed Bag for Retailers

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October was a positive month for many retailers reporting double-digit sales gains yesterday. But for others, the news wasn't as good since their reports included sales improvements in the low single-digit range.


J.C. Penney Co., Plano, TX, fell into the latter category, reporting a 2.3 percent increase in sales for the four weeks ended Oct. 30 compared to last year. Sales totaled $1.4 billion in October. Combined catalog/Internet sales inched ahead 1.7 percent compared to last year for a total of $242 million. Internet sales alone increased more than 20 percent.


The news was only slightly better at Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, which reported a total sales increase of 3.8 percent in October for a total of $1.1 billion. On a same-store basis, Federated's sales were up 4 percent for the month.


Federated's total sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 30 reached $3.49 billion, a 0.2 percent gain over last year at the same time. On a same-store basis, Federated reported third-quarter sales rose 0.4 percent.


Other companies reporting results yesterday included:


* Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL, generated $1.9 billion in store revenues in October, a 0.1 percent increase over last year. Comparable-store sales rose 1.9 percent during the period.


* Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, said net sales for the four weeks ended Oct. 30 totaled $633.8 million compared to $556.6 million last year. The company reported that same-store sales increased 14 percent during the month. In the third quarter ended Oct. 30, its net sales were $1.89 billion, a 2 percent gain over last year. Same-store sales for the quarter rose 1 percent.


* The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, posted sales for fiscal October that amounted to $146.9 million, a 7 percent gain over last year. Comparable store sales increased 4.7 percent during the month. During the fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 30, sales totaled $421.2 million, a 3 percent increase from last year. Comparable store sales decreased 0.1 percent for the quarter. Catalog sales in the third quarter were $59.7 million, a 6 percent decrease from last year.


* Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, said total company sales totaled $60.3 million for October, a 22 percent increase over last year. Comparable store sales increased 1 percent. Total catalog/direct marketing sales jumped 32 percent for a total of $22.8 million. Internet sales alone increased 21 percent for a total of $8.3 million. For the three months ended Oct. 31, Sharper Image reported a 20 percent increase in company sales for a total of $150 million. Comparable-store sales decreased 1 percent during the quarter. Total catalog/direct marketing sales were $48.8 million, a 28 percent increase over last year. Internet sales increased 24 percent for a total of $21 million.


* The Neiman Marcus Group, Dallas, reported that total revenue for the four weeks ended Oct. 30 reached $308 million, a 13.7 percent increase over last year. Same-store sales increased 13.5 percent during the month. Also, comparable revenues at Neiman Marcus Direct increased 17.7 percent in the period.


* Casual Male Retail Group, Canton, MA, generated total sales of $24.7 million in the four-week period ended Oct. 30 compared to $24.5 million last year. Same-store sales increased 0.4 percent for the month. For the third quarter of fiscal 2004, Casual Male's sales increased 1.6 percent for a total of $74.2 million and same-store sales increased 1.6 percent.


* Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Hampstead, MD, said its totals sales for the fiscal month ended Oct. 30 were $28.8 million, a 6.7 percent increase compared to last year. Same-store sales decreased 7.1 percent during the month. Also, combined catalog and Internet sales increased 20.5 percent. Total sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 30 reached $82.6 million, up 14.7 percent over last year. Comparable-store sales increased 0.4 percent while combined catalog and Internet sales jumped 18.8 percent.


* Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, reported sales of $511.9 million for the four-week period ended Oct. 30, a 13.5 percent gain over last year. Same-store sales increased 11.5 percent during the month.


* Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, said net sales jumped 28 percent during the four-week period ended Oct. 30 for a total of $133.9 million. Comparable store sales for the month increased 11 percent. For the third quarter ended Oct. 30, the company posted sales of $520.7 million, a 17 percent increase over last year. Comparable store sales increased 1 percent.


* Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, said sales for the four-week period ended Oct. 30 jumped 26.8 percent for a total of $86.5 million. Same-store sales increased 9.3 percent during the same period. Chico's total sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 30 were $270 million, a 28.1 percent improvement over last year. Comparable store sales increased 6.1 percent during the quarter.


* Reporting its results on Wednesday was The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, which said revenue for the four-week period ended Oct. 30 fell 4 percent to $42.7 million. Same-store sales during the month declined 13 percent.


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