Spiegel Net Sales Fall 31%

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The Spiegel Group reported net sales of $115.6 million for the four weeks ended April 26, down 31 percent from $167 million in the comparable period ended April 27, 2002.


For the recently ended 17-week period, net sales fell 25 percent to $529.2 million from $704 million in the year-ago period.


Comparable-store sales for the Eddie Bauer division fell 16 percent in the four-week period.


The group's net sales from retail and outlet stores dipped 16 percent from last year, reflecting a drop in comparable-store sales and a reduction in the number of stores. Direct sales (catalog and e-commerce) plummeted 42 percent versus last year, mainly due to lower customer demand and a planned reduction in catalog circulation.


The company thinks that direct sales, and to a lesser extent store sales, have been hammered by its decision in early March to stop honoring private-label credit cards issued by First Consumers National Bank to customers of its merchant companies: Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Spiegel Catalog.


New private-label programs run by Alliance Data Systems began this month.


In other news yesterday:


· Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL, said comparable domestic store revenue fell 8.5 percent in the four weeks ended May 3. Total domestic store revenue was $2 billion, an 8 percent drop versus the four weeks ended May 4, 2002. It was Sears' 20th consecutive monthly drop in sales at stores open at least a year.


· J.C. Penney, Plano, TX, said comparable department store sales fell 6.9 percent in the four weeks ended April 26 compared with last year's 5.5 percent increase. Catalog sales fell 7.4 percent, from last year's $189 million to $175 million. Internet sales, which are included in catalog, rose more than 25 percent for both the month and the recently ended quarter. Catalog sales in the 13 weeks ended April 26 totaled $587 million, down 11.1 percent from last year's $660 million. Total company sales in the month reached $2.38 billion, down 3.3 percent from last year's $2.46 billion.


· The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, said that total revenue for the four weeks ended May 3 totaled $240 million, up 6.1 percent from $226 million in the comparable period ended April 27, 2002. Comparable revenue reached $234 million, up 3.2 percent from $226 million last year. Also, comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct for the four-week April period ballooned 16.4 percent as the direct-to-consumer business experienced the highest year-over-year sales performance.


· Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, posted a 17 percent rise in total company sales in April, reaching $39.8 million versus last year's $34.1 million. Total store sales increased 23 percent to $22 million from $17.9 million. Comparable-store sales were up 11 percent. Total catalog sales fell 4 percent to $11.6 million from last April's $12.1 million, but catalog sales excluding TV infomercial sales affected by coverage of the U.S.-Iraq war were up 20 percent. Internet sales rose 50 percent to $6.2 million. In the three months ended April 30, total company sales increased 28 percent to $117 million from $91.6 million last year. Total store sales rose 32 percent to $65.8 million from $50 million. Comparable-store sales were up 19 percent. Catalog sales increased 16 percent to $34.3 million. Catalog sales excluding TV infomercial sales climbed 35 percent, and Internet sales were up 42 percent to $16.9 million.


· The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, reported that company sales in the four weeks ended May 3 totaled $131.5 million, up 1 percent from the comparable period ended May 4, 2002. Comparable-store sales fell 6.5 percent in the month. Total sales in the 13 weeks ended May 3 rose 1 percent to $395 million from $391.3 million in the year-ago period. Retail store sales increased 2 percent to $329.2 million from $321.7 million. Catalog sales fell 5 percent to $65.8 million from $69.6 million in the prior-year period.


· Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, said total sales for its fiscal month ended May 3 rose 13.9 percent to $22.9 million versus $20.1 million in April 2002. Comparable-store sales increased 0.4 percent while combined catalog and Internet sales climbed 23.2 percent in April. Total sales for the quarter ended May 3 rose 11.6 percent to $62.3 million from $55.8 million a year ago. Comparable-store sales increased 0.6 percent while combined catalog and Internet sales improved 15.7 percent in the fiscal first quarter of 2003.


· Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, said sales in the four weeks ended May 3 jumped 26.9 percent to $59.6 million from $46.9 million in the period ended May 4, 2002. Comparable-store sales for the company-owned stores increased 4.7 percent in four-week period. Total sales for the quarter ended May 3 rose 29.5 percent to $169 million from $130.5 million in the same period a year ago. Comparable-store sales for the company-owned stores increased 7.8 percent.


· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, posted net sales of $102.7 million in the four weeks ended May 3, up from $89.8 million in the comparable period last year. Year-to-date, it posted a net sales increase of 11 percent to $346.7 million from $312.8 million last year as comparable-store sales dropped 6 percent for the year-to-date period.


· Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, reported a comparable-store sales increase of 3 percent for the four weeks ended May 3 versus the four weeks ended May 4, 2002. Net sales were $580.6 million compared with $549.7 million last year. Comparable-store sales fell 1 percent in the 13 weeks ended May 3 as net sales totaled $1.84 billion, a 2 percent rise versus $1.8 billion last year. Victoria's Secret Direct produced sales of $229.5 million in the first quarter compared with $225.8 million in the year-ago period.


· J. Crew Group Inc., New York, reported revenue for the four weeks ended May 3 of $57.7 million versus $54.8 million in the comparable period ended May 4, 2002, up 5 percent. Revenue for the quarter ended May 3 fell 3 percent to $161.5 million compared with $167.1 million in period ended May 4, 2002. Direct revenues, combining Internet and catalog, totaled $18.8 million in the four weeks ended May 3 versus $17 million in the period ended May 4, 2002. Direct revenues for the recently ended 13-week period were $55 million, down from $56.2 million last year.


· Comparable-store sales at Restoration Hardware, Corte Madera, CA, for the four weeks ended May 3 rose 18 percent versus that period a year ago. In the recently ended quarter, comparable-store sales jumped 12 percent while net sales for the total company climbed 18 percent to $81.8 million from $69.4 million. Net sales for the direct-to-customer division, which includes catalog and Internet sales, skyrocketed 72 percent in the quarter.


· The Bombay Company, Fort Worth, TX, said Wednesday that same-store sales for stores open more than one year rose 18 percent for the four weeks ended May 3. Total revenue increased 23 percent to $37 million compared with the four weeks ended May 4, 2002. During the first quarter, same-store sales increased 25 percent and total revenue rose 31 percent to $119 million compared with $90.9 million.


· Also Wednesday, Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, posted preliminary sales of $439.7 million in the four weeks ended May 3, up 5.2 percent compared with $417.8 million in the year-ago period. Same-store sales fell 0.3 percent in April.


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