Wal-Mart Leads the Way in November Sales

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Wal-Mart Stores was one of the few bright spots among major retailers in November while Sears, Roebuck and Co and Federated Department Stores Inc. announced declines compared to the same period last year.


Net sales at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR, were $21 billion for the four weeks ending Nov. 29, up from $19.03 billion a year ago.


Domestic store revenue at Sears, Hoffman Estates, IL, for the four weeks ended Nov. 30 was $2.61 billion, down 8.7 percent compared to the four weeks ending Dec. 1 last year. Comparable domestic store revenue dropped 10.9 percent, marking the company's 15th consecutive monthly decline.


Chairman/CEO Alan J. Lacy said in a statement that sales were in line with expectations and that Thanksgiving week was an "encouraging kickoff" to the holiday season.


Sears also announced that Sara LaPorta was named senior vice president in charge of strategy. She was formerly a vice president at Boston Consulting Group's consumer and retail strategy practice. She replaces Mike Tower, who reportedly left the company at the end of May.


Federated, Cincinnati, reported total sales of $1.47 billion in the four weeks ended Nov. 30, off 5.8 percent from $1.56 billion during the same period a year ago. November sales were down 7.4 percent on a same-store basis. Chairman/CEO James M. Zimmerman said sales would be at the lower end of expectations for November and December.


Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, posted a comparable store sales decrease of 2 percent in the four weeks ended Nov. 30 compared to the comparable period ending last Dec. 1. Adjusted net sales were $751.1 million, up 3 percent compared to adjusted sales of $726.5 million last year. Adjusted sales did not include Lerner New York, which was sold on Nov. 27. Net sales including Lerner New York were $815.4 million, up from $816.3 million a year ago.


Department store sales were essentially unchanged at J.C. Penney, Plano, TX, for the four weeks ended Nov. 23. Total sales increased from $2.78 billion last year to $2.82 billion.


Catalog sales were down 10.2 percent from last year, despite e-commerce sales that the company characterized as "significantly above last year." The company also reported plans to close a catalog outlet store in Memphis and eliminate 178 jobs Jan. 25.


The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, announced that comparable revenues in its Specialty Retail Stores segment that includes Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman increased 2.9 percent in the four-week November period. Also, comparable revenues at Neiman Marcus Direct increased 14.9 percent. Total revenues for the four weeks ended Nov. 30 reached $278 million, up 8.8 percent from $255 million for the comparable period ended Nov. 24, 2001. Also, comparable revenues were up 5.8 percent from $254 million to $268 million.


Other news reported at the company included the promotion of the head of catalog and Internet sales for Neiman Marcus Stores to chief executive, as Karen Katz will oversee merchandising and store operations for Neiman Marcus Stores.


Other companies reporting November results included:


· The Spiegel Group, Downers Grove, IL, reported sales of $195.3 million in the four weeks ended Nov. 23 compared to $255.2 million for the four-week period ended Nov. 24, 2001. Comparable-store sales for its Eddie Bauer division dropped 20 percent for the four-week period. Overall sales for Eddie Bauer were down 18 percent. Results for other divisions included declines of 22 percent at Newport News and 37 percent at Spiegel Catalog. Sales results for Newport News and Spiegel Catalog reflect a significant reduction in catalog pages circulated as well as the continuing impact of the company's more-restrictive credit granting measures for its private-label credit. Sales from the e-commerce channel increased 8 percent, but total direct sales plummeted 24 percent and retail store sales decreased 23 percent.


· J. Crew Group Inc., New York, posted revenues for the four weeks ended Nov. 30 of $76 million, down 11.8 percent from $86.2 million last year. Comparable store sales for the Retail division dropped 4.7 percent and net sales for the Direct division plummeted 28.7 percent.


· Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, recorded a 37.2 percent sales increase in the four-week period ended Nov. 30 to $44.9 million. Comparable store sales for the company-owned stores were up 11.3 percent.


· Sales of $118.7 million at The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, in the four weeks ended Nov. 30 were virtually unchanged from $118.3 million in the comparable period ended Dec. 1, 2001. Comparable store sales fell 3 percent for the month.


· Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, reported preliminary sales of $573.8 million for the four-week period ended Nov. 30, up 4.3 percent from sales of $550 million in the comparable period ended Dec. 1, 2001. Same-store sales fell 1 percent.


· The Bombay Company Inc., Fort Worth, TX, reported that same-store sales for stores open more than 1 year were up 17 percent in the four weeks ending Nov. 30 compared to the comparable period ended Dec. 1, 2001. Total revenue was up 22 percent to $56.8 million from $46.7 million a year ago. Revenue from non-store activity, including Bailey Street Trading Company, International, Mail Order and Internet, amounted to 6 percent of total revenue for the period compared to 5 percent last year.


· Sharper Image Corp., San Francisco, said total company sales skyrocketed 33 percent to $56.8 million. Total store sales were up 31 percent to $31.8 million from $24.2 million; comparable store sales increased 15 percent and catalog sales were up 27 percent to $16.1 million from last November's $12.7 million. Internet sales, excluding auction sales, were up 57 percent while they increased 49 percent to $8.9 million from $6 million when auction sales are included.


· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, recorded net sales of $158.7 million in the four-week period ended Nov. 30, up 4 percent over last November's sales of $152.7 million. However, November comparable store sales plummeted 13 percent.


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