Sears, Spiegel Sales Slip

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Sears and Spiegel bucked the generally upbeat news generated by direct marketers reporting April results yesterday.


The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, reported net sales of $104.4 million for the four weeks ended May 1, a 10 percent decrease from $115.6 million in the comparable period ended April 26, 2003. In the 17 weeks ended May 1, total sales dropped 19 percent to $426.8 million.


The company also reported that comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division fell 1 percent for the four weeks and 2 percent for the 17 weeks ended May 1 versus the year-ago periods.


The Group's net sales from retail and outlet stores fell 15 percent for the month compared with the same period last year, thanks mainly to store closings. The company operated 435 stores at the end of April 2004, down from 556 at the end of April 2003. Most of the closings resulted from the company's ongoing reorganization.


The Group's direct net sales (catalog and e-commerce) fell 4 percent for the month versus the year-ago period, reflecting lower sales for Eddie Bauer and Spiegel Catalog, but offset somewhat by sales growth for Newport News.


Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL, said comparable domestic store revenue decreased 1.8 percent in the four weeks ended May 1. Total domestic store revenue was $1.94 billion for the four weeks in April 2004, down 2.8 percent from the four weeks ended May 3, 2003.


Other firms reporting results yesterday included:


* JC Penney Company Inc., Plano, TX, said comparable department store sales increased 5.3 percent and catalog/Internet sales rose 0.6 percent for the four weeks ended May 1. The company reported that Internet sales "continue to experience strong growth," increasing about 35 percent for the month and 45 percent for the quarter. It also said sales patterns for department stores and catalog/Internet reflect an earlier Easter holiday, which benefited the March period. On a combined basis, March and April comparable-store sales increased 8.5 percent and catalog/Internet sales rose 5.9 percent.


In the four weeks ended May 1, department store sales totaled $1.11 billion versus $1.05 billion in the period ended April 26, 2003. The catalog/Internet segment generated $176 million compared $175 million a year ago. The department store total for the recently concluded 13-week period was $3.41 billion, up from last year's $3.12 billion. The 13-week catalog/Internet comparisons were favorable, rising to $625 million from $587 million.


* Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, posted total sales of $1.13 billion for the four weeks ended May 1, up 5.5 percent from $1.08 billion in the same period last year. On a same-store basis, April sales climbed 5.4 percent. For the 13-week first quarter, sales totaled $3.52 billion, up 6.9 percent from the first 13 weeks of 2003. On a same-store basis, first-quarter sales also were up 6.9 percent.


* Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, saw comparable-store sales increase 2 percent for the four weeks ended May 1 versus the four weeks ended May 3, 2003. Net sales reached $586.6 million compared with $580.6 million last year. The company reported a comparable-store sales increase of 8 percent for the first quarter ended May 1. Net sales were $1.98 billion, an increase of 7 percent from last year.


* Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, posted net sales of $121.7 million for the four weeks ended May 1, a 19 percent increase over last year's April sales of $102.7 million. But April comparable-store sales were flat compared with the four weeks ended May 3, 2003. Year-to-date, the company reported a net sales increase of 19 percent to $411.9 million from $346.7 million last year. Comparable-store sales also were flat year-to-date.


* Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, generated a preliminary sales total of $491.7 million for the four weeks ending May 1, up 12.4 percent from $437.5 million for the four weeks ending May 3, 2003. Same-store sales increased 10 percent. Preliminary quarter-to-date sales of $1.5 billion were up 16.6 percent from 2003. Quarter-to-date same-store sales rose 13.2 percent.


* The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, reported total revenue of $274 million for the four weeks ended May 1 compared with $241 million in the period ended May 3, 2003. It generated $878 million in total revenue for the 13 weeks ended May 1, up from $723 million in the comparable period.


* Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, said total sales in April rose 20 percent to $46 million from last year's $38.5 million. Total store sales increased 12 percent to $24.2 million from the prior April as comparable-store sales fell 3 percent. Total catalog sales increased 25 percent to $13.5 million from last April's $10.8 million. Internet sales ballooned 36 percent to $8.3 million from last April's $6.1 million.


Also, sales in the first quarter ending April 30 climbed 35 percent to a first-quarter record of $152.7 million from last year's $113.5 million. Total store sales increased 26 percent to $81.4 million while comparable-store sales rose 8 percent. Catalog sales jumped 40 percent to $45.1 million. Internet sales skyrocketed 58 percent to $26.2 million.


* Brookstone Inc., Nashua, NH, said same-store sales for the first quarter surged 20.1 percent. For the 13 weeks ended May 1, total sales climbed 27.1 percent to $77.5 million compared with $61 million in first-quarter 2003 while Direct Marketing sales rose 16.4 percent to $11.8 million.


* The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, reported that total sales for fiscal April, the four weeks ended May 1, reached $139.2 million, up 6 percent from $131.5 million for the four weeks ended May 3, 2003. Comparable-store sales increased 0.3 percent for the month. Sales for the 13 weeks ended May 1 increased 6 percent to $419 million. Retail store sales increased 7 percent to $353.4 million. Included in retail store sales was an increase in comparable-store sales of 1.7 percent for the 13-week period. Catalog sales were about even at $65.6 million compared with $65.8 million in the prior-year period.


* Casual Male Retail Group Inc., Canton, MA, said that Casual Male Big & Tall sales for first-quarter fiscal 2004 were about $78.2 million versus $72.8 million in the prior year's first quarter. Comparable-store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 increased 9.2 percent.


* Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, reported that April sales results for the four weeks ended May 1 increased 46.4 percent to $87.2 million from $59.6 million in the four weeks ended May 3, 2003. Comparable-store sales for company-owned stores increased 16 percent for the four-week period. Total sales for the first quarter ended May 1 rose 52 percent to $257 million from $169 million for the year-ago period. Comparable-store sales for company-owned stores increased 20.1 percent for the 13-week period.


* JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, said total sales for the fiscal month ended May 1 rose 13.5 percent to $26 million versus $22.9 million in April 2003. Comparable-store sales increased 2.7 percent versus April 2003, while combined catalog and Internet sales increased 6.9 percent. Total sales for the first quarter ended May 1 rose 28.3 percent to $79.9 million compared with $62.3 million in the prior-year period. Comparable-store sales increased 13.6 percent in the quarter as combined catalog and Internet sales rose 18.7 percent.


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