Spiegel Sales Plunge 28 Percent

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There seems to be no end in sight of the horrible news coming out of Downers Grove, IL, where The Spiegel Group yesterday reported a 28 percent drop in net sales for the five weeks ending March 29 versus the comparable period in 2002.


Net sales in the period were $157.8 million, down from $217.8 million last year. Net sales for the 13 weeks ended March 29 dropped 23 percent to $413.6 million from the year-ago period.


Also, comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division dipped 14 percent in the five weeks and 10 percent in the 13-week period.


Net sales from retail and outlet stores fell 15 percent from last year, reflecting a decline in comparable-store sales and a reduction in the number of stores. Net sales from catalog and e-commerce plummeted 36 percent from last year, due mainly to lower customer demand and a planned reduction in catalog circulation, the company said.


Spiegel also said that direct sales, and store sales to a lesser extent, were hurt by the company's decision in early March to stop accepting the private-label credit cards issued by First Consumers National Bank for its Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Spiegel Catalog brands. The company said it is seeking a third-party credit provider in order to issue new private-label credit cards as soon as possible.


More bad news came out of the Chicago area yesterday as Sears, Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL, posted a 3.1 percent decline in comparable domestic store revenue in the five weeks ended April 5. Total domestic store revenue totaled $2.4 billion, a 2.3 percent drop from the five weeks ended April 6, 2002.


In other news:


JC Penney, Plano, TX, said that comparable department store sales fell 5.5 percent in the five weeks ended March 29 while catalog sales slipped 13.1 percent. Internet sales, which are included in catalog, rose 19 percent. For the five weeks, total company sales reached $2.84 billion, a 4.2 percent drop from $2.97 billion in the comparable period ended March 30, 2002. In that period, catalog sales totaled $238 million versus last year's $274 million.


Total company sales for the nine weeks ended March 29 were $5.11 billion, down 3 percent from last year's $5.26 billion. For the nine-week comparison, catalog sales fell 12.5 percent from $471 million to $412 million.


J.Crew Group Inc., New York, posted revenues for the five weeks ended April 5 of $58.2 million, almost unchanged from the $58.9 million for the five weeks ended April 6, 2002. Comparable store sales fell 8 percent in the five weeks ended April 5 compared to the same period last year. Revenues for the nine weeks ended April 5 were $103.8 million, an 8 percent drop from last year's comparable period. Comparable store sales fell 15 percent for the nine-week period ended April 5.


The company posted $15.4 million in direct revenues the five-week period ended April 5, the same as for the comparable 2002 period. Internet accounted for $10.3 million and catalog accounted for $5.1 million this year. Last year the split was $8.7 million for Internet and $6.7 million for catalog. Direct revenues totaled $36.2 million for the nine-week period ended April 5 compared with $39.2 million for the comparable period a year ago. Internet brought in $23.3 million and Catalog accounted for $12.9 million. Last year Internet had revenue of $21.8 million and catalog had revenue of $17.4 million.


The Wet Seal Inc., Foothill Ranch, CA, posted net sales for the five weeks ended April 5 of $49.2 million versus $63.4 million for the five weeks ended April 6, 2002. Comparable-store sales for March plummeted 27.1 percent.


The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, said that for its five-week March period comparable revenue in the Specialty Retail Stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman, fell 3.3 percent. Comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct in the March period rose 12.5 percent. Total revenue for the five weeks ended April 5 was $274 million, up 2.2 percent from $268 million in the comparable period ended March 30, 2002. Comparable revenue fell 0.5 percent in that time, from $268 million to $267 million.


The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, achieved sales for fiscal March of $187.1 million, up 6 percent from $177.1 million in the five weeks ended April 6, 2002. Comparable-store sales rose 0.8 percent. Year-to-date sales for the nine weeks ended April 5 were up 1 percent to $263.5 million from $261.2 million in the nine weeks ended April 6, 2002. Comparable-store sales fell 3.1 percent in the nine-week period.


Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, posted net sales of $144.1 million in the five weeks ended April 5, an 8 percent rise over last year's March sales of $133.9 million. March comparable-store sales fell 10 percent. Year-to-date, it reported a net sales increase of 10 percent to $244.1 million from $223 million last year. Comparable-store sales dropped 7 percent year-to-date.


Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, said March sales for the five weeks ended April 5 skyrocketed 34.8 percent to $67.9 million from $50.3 million in the five weeks ended April 6, 2002. Comparable-store sales for company-owned stores rose 12.4 percent. In the nine weeks ended April 5, total sales jumped 31 percent to $109.4 million from $83.5 million in the nine weeks ended April 6, 2002. Comparable-store sales for company-owned stores increased 9.6 percent.


Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, posted a comparable-store sales drop of 4 percent in the five weeks ended April 5 versus the five weeks ended April 6, 2002. Net sales were $690.1 million compared with $693.7 million last year. It also announced a comparable-store sales decrease of 3 percent in the nine weeks ended April 5. Net sales totaled $1.26 billion, up 1 percent from $1.25 billion last year.


Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, announced total sales of $1.23 billion in the five weeks ended April 5, down 5.9 percent from $1.31 billion for the same period last year. On a same-store basis, March sales fell 6.5 percent. In the first nine weeks of fiscal 2003, sales totaled $2.22 billion, down 6 percent from $2.36 billion last year. On a same-store basis, year-to-date sales dropped 6.7 percent.


Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, released preliminary sales figures of $518 million for the five weeks ending April 5, up 2.9 percent from the five weeks ending April 6, 2002. Same-store sales fell 1.7 percent.


The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, reported April 9 that same-store sales for stores open more than a year rose 30 percent in the five weeks ended April 5. Total revenue jumped 36 percent to $47.9 million from $35.3 million in the five weeks ended April 4, 2002. Revenue from non-store activity -- including Bailey Street Trading Company, international, mail order and Internet -- amounted to 9 percent of total revenue for the period, up from 7 percent in the same period last year.


In the nine weeks ended April 5, same-store sales rose 28 percent while total sales increased 35 percent to $82.1 million. Revenue from non-store activity represented 8 percent of total revenue in the nine weeks compared with 6 percent a year ago.


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