Direct Segment Puts Spring in April Sales

Direct marketers and specialty retailers reported rising sales in April yesterday buoyed in part by growth in the catalog and Internet sectors as department stores showed more modest gains over last year's performance.

The Talbots Inc., Hingham, MA, saw a 7.1 percent increase in comparable-store sales while total company sales for the month climbed 11 percent. For the 13 weeks ended April 30, Talbots had an 8 percent increase in overall sales, driven by an 8 percent rise each in comparable-store sales and direct marketing, including catalog and Internet sales.

JoS. A. Bank Clothiers, Hampstead, MD, posted increases in comparable-store sales of 5.8 percent and combined catalog/Internet sales of 33.7 percent. Total sales jumped 25.4 percent for the month.

At Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Dallas, April comparable revenue was up 14.2 percent overall. The specialty retail stores segment had a 12.5 percent increase, and Neiman Marcus Direct, which includes catalogs and Internet sales, had a 19.5 percent increase.

Same-store sales for J.C. Penney Co., Plano, TX, rose 3.6 percent while catalog and Internet sales were up 12.5 percent.

Federated Department Stores, Cincinnati, showed a same-store sales increase of 2.8 percent and an overall increase in sales of 2.6 percent.

At Nordstrom Inc., Seattle, total April sales improved 8.1 percent.

Urban Outfitters, Philadelphia, reported a 36 percent rise in total sales for the three months ended April 30 on an 11 percent uptick in comparable-store sales, a 54 percent increase in direct-to-consumer sales and a 69 percent increase in wholesale sales. Also, its number of stores climbed 29 percent.

Sales by other retailers included:

· Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany, OH, with a 16 percent rise in comparable-store sales for April and a net sales increase of 31 percent.

· The Bombay Company, Fort Worth, TX, with an increase of 7 percent in same-store sales in April and a 9 percent rise in total revenue reported late Wednesday.

· Brookstone, Merrimack, NH, posted a same-store sales drop of 3.9 percent for the 13 weeks ended April 30, but an increase in direct marketing sales of 12.3 percent on a 24.5 percent jump in circulation.

· Casual Male Retail Group, Canton, MA, reported a total sales increase of 24.4 percent for first-quarter 2005 and a 2.3 percent improvement in comparable-store sales.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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