Warm Spell Helps, Hurts January Retail Sales

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There wasn't the usual chill to January's retail sales, according to several multichannel merchants reporting increases yesterday that were in the high single digits and greater. Others, however, were stuck in the cold.


Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, reported preliminary sales of $431.1 million for the four weeks ended Jan. 28, an increase of 11.6 percent compared with the same period last year. Same-store sales rose 6 percent during the month.


For the fourth quarter, preliminary sales totaled $2.3 billion, a 9.3 percent increase, while same-store sales gained 5.8 percent. Fiscal year 2005 sales totaled $7.72 billion, an 8.3 percent increase, and same-store sales rose 6 percent.


However, the bad news continued at Sharper Image, San Francisco, which said companywide sales dropped 20 percent during the calendar month ended Jan. 31 to $39.2 million. Comparable-store sales decreased 13 percent in the period while catalog/direct marketing sales plummeted 36 percent to $7.5 million. Internet sales dipped 20 percent to $7.8 million.


During the fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, Sharper Image's sales totaled $253.9 million, a decrease of 13 percent. Same-store sales for the quarter dropped 15 percent. Catalog/direct marketing sales totaled $36.7 million, a 35 percent decline. Internet sales were $46.9 million, down 4 percent.


For the 2005 fiscal year, company sales fell 12 percent to $648.9 million. Same-store sales declined 16 percent. Catalog/direct marketing sales totaled $136 million, a 28 percent decrease. Internet sales dropped 9 percent to $105.9 million.


Other companies reporting results:


· The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, posted a 7.1 percent increase in revenue for the four weeks ended Jan. 28, totaling $253 million. Comparable revenue in the specialty retail stores segment, which includes Neiman Marcus stores and Bergdorf Goodman, increased 4.7 percent. Comparable revenue at Neiman Marcus Direct fell 2.6 percent. The company blamed the drop on its decision to shift certain catalog mailings that occurred in January of the prior fiscal year to December of the current fiscal year. For the second quarter of fiscal 2006, revenue gained 9 percent to $1.23 billion. Specialty retail stores comparable revenue increased 4.5 percent, while Neiman Marcus Direct revenue was 13.2 percent above last year.


· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, generated a 46 percent jump in net sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 28, totaling $184.3 million. January's comparable-store sales increased 33 percent.


· J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Plano, TX, saw company sales increase 3.1 percent to $1.09 billion for the four weeks ended Jan. 28. Same-store sales increased 2.5 percent in the period. Also, catalog/Internet sales increased 4.3 percent to $196 million. Sales through jcpenney.com were up in the low double digits in January.


· JoS. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., Hampstead, MD, reported net sales for the fiscal month ended Jan. 28 increased 28.9 percent to $30.8 million. Comparable-store sales jumped 20.4 percent, while combined catalog and Internet sales decreased 2.5 percent. Sales for the fourth quarter of FY05 increased 28.1 percent to $163.8 million. Comparable-store sales rose 15.9 percent, while catalog/Internet sales increased 18.9 percent. Sales for FY05 increased 24.7 percent to $464.6 million. Comparable-store sales rose 10.6 percent, while catalog/Internet sales increased 21.7 percent.


· The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, said company sales for January increased 4 percent to $132.1 million, while comparable-store sales inched up 0.8 percent. Sales for the fiscal fourth quarter increased 3 percent to $486.2 million. Comparable-store sales increased 1.6 percent for the 13-week period while direct marketing sales increased 3 percent to $72.1 million. Sales for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28 increased 7 percent to $1.81 billion. Comparable-store sales increased 2.6 percent for the 52-week period, while direct marketing sales increased 9 percent to $265 million.


· Federated Department Stores Inc., Cincinnati, said sales totaled $1.5 billion for the four weeks ended Jan. 28, an 83.1 percent increase. On a same-store basis, Federated's January sales were up 1 percent. Federated's total sales for September through January include the May Co. acquisition, which was completed in August. Federated's same-store sales include only Macy's and Bloomingdale's locations. For the fourth quarter of FY05, Federated's sales totaled $9.57 billion, up 87 percent. On a same-store basis, fourth-quarter sales inched up 1.1 percent. For the full year, Federated's sales totaled $22.39 billion, up 41.9 percent. On a same-store basis, annual sales increased 1.3 percent.


· Casual Male Retail Group Inc., Canton, MA, saw sales for the fourth quarter ended Jan. 28 increase 8.7 percent to $128.4 million. Comparable-store sales increased 7.9 percent during the period. For the fiscal year, sales increased 19.4 percent to $420.9 million, while comparable-store sales increased 4.6 percent.


· Harry & David Holdings Inc., Medford, OR, reported net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2006 ended Dec. 24 totaling $362.4 million, an 8.2 percent increase. Same-store sales were up 9.5 percent. Also, direct marketing net sales, which include catalog, Internet, business-to-business and outbound telemarketing sales, totaled $257.9 million, a 7.4 percent increase. For the 26 weeks ended Dec. 24, the company said net sales totaled $420.1 million compared with net sales of $388.6 million for the same period last year.


· Chico's FAS Inc., Fort Myers, FL, said sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 28 increased 34.2 percent to $91.7 million. Same-store sales increased 14.6 percent in the period. Fourth-quarter sales increased 31.6 percent to $376 million, while same-store sales increased 14.6 percent. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 28, Chico's sales soared 31.7 percent to $1.41 billion, and same-store sales increased 14.3 percent.


· Reporting results Wednesday was The Bombay Company, Fort Worth, TX, which generated a 1.4 percent increase in revenue for the four weeks ended Jan. 28 to $38.6 million. Same-store sales increased 6 percent. Revenue from non-store activity declined to 5.1 percent of total revenue for the month compared with 9.6 percent during the same period last year. For the fourth quarter, Bombay's revenue declined 6.9 percent to $189.3 million, while same-store sales decreased 4.3 percent. Revenue from non-store activity was 5.1 percent of total revenue for the fourth quarter compared with 7.1 percent last year. For the fiscal year, revenue decreased 1.5 percent to $567.5 million while same-store sales decreased 1.8 percent. Revenue from non-store activity was 4.8 percent of total revenue compared with 8.1 percent in fiscal 2004.


· Also reporting Wednesday was Limited Brands, Columbus, OH, which posted a 4 percent increase in net sales for the four weeks ended Jan. 28 to $783 million. Comparable-store sales were flat in the period. For the fourth quarter, net sales totaled $3.51 billion, a 5 percent gain over last year. Same-store sales rose 3 percent in the period. Limited Brands' net sales increased 3 percent for FY05 to $9.67 billion, while same-store sales decreased 1 percent.


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