Spiegel's Catalog, E-Commerce Sales Drop 41% in May

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The Spiegel Group yesterday reported net sales of $150.9 million during the four weeks ended May 24, an 11 percent drop from $169.9 million in the four weeks ended May 25, 2002.


Catalog and e-commerce net sales plunged 41 percent compared with last year, mainly because of weaker customer demand and a planned reduction in catalog circulation, the company said.


Comparable-store sales for Spiegel's Eddie Bauer division fell 1 percent for the four-week period and 9 percent for the 21-week period ended May 24.


Net sales for May included $25.5 million resulting from the sale and transfer of inventory to an independent liquidator in conjunction with the closing of 81 stores. The liquidator is conducting store-closing inventory sales as part of the plan to close 60 Eddie Bauer retail and outlet stores, 16 Spiegel outlet and clearance stores and five Newport News outlet stores.


Excluding the liquidation sales, net sales from retail and outlet stores dropped 6 percent compared with last year, reflecting a decline in comparable-store sales and fewer stores compared with last year.


Spiegel also stated that direct sales, and to a lesser extent store sales, continue to be hurt by the company's decision in early March to cancel private-label credit cards issued by its First Consumers National Bank subsidiary to customers of its merchant companies: Eddie Bauer, Newport News and Spiegel Catalog.


Meanwhile, Dow Jones Newswires reported yesterday that Cornelius Blackshear of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan signed an order May 29 approving Spiegel's plan to liquidate FCNB.


Dow Jones reported that under the plan, the bank would maintain sufficient funds to remain insured as long as its national bank charter remains outstanding. The bank will discontinue its services June 30 and start the liquidation process.


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