Sears Revenue Up; Spiegel Sales Down

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Sears, Roebuck and Co. posted positive numbers for August as the Hoffman Estates, IL, company said yesterday that comparable domestic store revenue improved 3.9 percent in the four weeks ended Aug. 30.


Also, total domestic store revenue was $2.1 billion in August, up 4.1 percent compared with the four weeks ended Aug. 31, 2002.


Credited for the uptick were improving sales in home appliances and the lawn and garden sector, which benefited from wet weather that extended the growing season.


In other news:


· The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, yesterday reported net sales of $104.4 million for the four weeks ended Aug. 23, a 30 percent drop from $149.6 million in the four weeks ended Aug. 24, 2002.


In the 34 weeks ended Aug. 23, net sales fell 23 percent to $1.04 billion from $1.36 billion in the same period last year.


The Group's direct net sales -- catalog and e-commerce -- plummeted 42 percent versus last year, mainly due to lower customer demand, a planned reduction in catalog circulation and the ongoing negative effect of the discontinuation in early March of the company's private-label credit cards issued by First Consumers National Bank to customers of its merchant companies.


Comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division dropped 7 percent in the four weeks and 8 percent in the 34 weeks ended Aug. 23. This reflects a low single-digit comparable-store sales drop in its apparel stores, combined with weaker comparable-store sales in its home and outlet stores.


The Group's net sales from retail and outlet stores fell 18 percent versus last year, primarily reflecting the effect of store closings and the decline in comparable-store sales. The company reduced its store base by 18 percent to 467 stores at the end of August. Most of the closings resulted from actions taken as part of the company's ongoing reorganization.


· Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, posted total sales of $1.078 billion in the four weeks ended Aug. 30, a 0.6 percent drop from $1.084 billion in the same period last year. On a same-store basis, August sales fell 0.8 percent.


For the year to date, sales totaled $7.8 billion, down 2.7 percent from $8.02 billion in the first 30 weeks of 2002. On a same-store basis, year-to-date sales dropped 2.8 percent.


President/CEO Terry J. Lundgren noted that Federated's same-store sales would have been flat in August if not for the blackout that closed businesses for several days beginning Aug. 14.


· J.C. Penney Company Inc., Plano, TX, said that comparable department store sales rose 6.5 percent in the four weeks ended Aug. 23. Catalog/Internet sales fell 2.1 percent, from $187 million in the period ended Aug. 24, 2002, to $183 million in the comparable period ended Aug. 23. But Internet sales climbed about 40 percent for the month.


Total company sales rose 3.9 percent in the four weeks, from last year's $2.51 billion to $2.61 billion. Total company sales in the recently ended 30-week period fell 0.1 percent from $17.44 billion to $17.41 billion, a time in which catalog/Internet sales dropped 4 percent, from $1.39 billion to $1.33 billion.


· Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, said that company sales in August increased 11 percent to $38.2 million from last year's $34.5 million. Total store sales rose 21 percent to $23.7 million from $19.5 million. Comparable-store sales climbed 9 percent.


But total catalog sales fell 14 percent to $9.8 million. Excluding the wholesale sales component from total catalog sales for both years, August catalog sales were down 8 percent. Internet sales jumped 30 percent to $4.7 million from $3.6 million.


For the seven months ended Aug. 31, total company sales are up 24 percent to $279.9 million from $225.6 million. Total store sales rose 28 percent to $163.7 million from $127.9 million. Comparable-store sales increased 15 percent. Catalog sales were up 9 percent to $76.3 million from $70 million. Internet sales ballooned 44 percent to $39.9 million from $27.8 million.


· Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, announced a 21.7 percent rise in total sales for the fiscal month ended Aug. 30 to a record $17.4 million, compared with $14.3 million in August 2002. Comparable-store sales were up 8.6 percent, while combined catalog and Internet sales increased 15.7 percent.


Total net sales for the seven months ended Aug. 30 were up 18.2 percent to $144.1 million versus $121.9 million in the prior-year period. Comparable-store sales improved 6.6 percent as combined catalog and Internet sales rose 13.9 percent.


· United Retail Group Inc., Rochelle Park, NJ, produced total sales of $24.9 million in August versus $27.3 million in August 2002 as comparable-store sales fell 8 percent. For the fiscal year to date, total sales reached $231.2 million compared with $256.5 million in the same period last year. Comparable-store sales dropped 9 percent for the year to date. United Retail Group is a specialty retailer of large-size women's fashion apparel, footwear and accessories featuring Avenue brand merchandise.


· Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, posted a comparable-store sales drop of 2 percent in the four weeks ended Aug. 30 versus the four weeks ended Aug. 31, 2002. Net sales totaled $575.7 million compared with $577.8 million last year. The company also reported a 1 percent comparable-store sales increase in the 30 weeks ended Aug. 30. Net sales totaled $4.43 billion, up 3 percent from $4.29 billion last year.


· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, posted net sales of $190.4 million in the four weeks ended Aug. 30, a 3 percent rise over last year's August sales of $185.2 million. August comparable-store sales dropped 11 percent versus the four weeks ending Aug. 31, 2002. Year-to-date, the company reported a net sales increase of 8 percent to $892.8 million from $827.1 million last year. Comparable-store sales fell 8 percent year-to-date.


· The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, late Wednesday reported that same-store sales for stores opened more than a year increased 18 percent in the four weeks ended Aug. 30. Total revenue rose 23 percent to $37.7 million from $30.6 million in the four weeks ended Aug. 31, 2002. For the 30 weeks ended Aug. 30, same-store sales climbed 24 percent as total revenue increased 30 percent to $287.2 million from last year's $221.5 million.


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