Several Catalogers Post Lower Sales for May

After experiencing some sales gain in April, May has turned out to be a less-than-pleasing month for several catalogers/retailers that reported sales decreases yesterday.

Federated Department Stores led the way, reporting total sales of $1.242 billion for a four-week period that ended June 2. That was a 7.1 percent decrease from total sales of $1.336 billion in the year-ago period.

The company also warned that its second quarter could fall below Wall Street projections unless the weak revenue trend is reversed.

James M. Zimmerman, Federated's chairman/CEO, said the year's continuing weak sales trend was exacerbated last month by unusually cool weather in the East and the impact of rising energy costs on consumers in California.

The Spiegel Group reported yesterday that sales for the four weeks that ended May 26 decreased by 5 percent to $223 million from $234.7 million in the same period last year.

The company also said total sales declined 3 percent to $1.04 billion for the 21 weeks that ended May 26, compared with $1.072 billion in the year-ago period.

Its e-commerce division saw sales increase by 66 percent in the four-week period, compared with a 14 percent decrease in catalog sales.

Spiegel was not helped by its Eddie Bauer division, which saw comparable store sales decrease 7 percent in the four-week period and 10 percent in the 21-week period.

The company said it now expects 2001 earnings to fall 10 percent to 15 percent below analysts' estimates, but it maintains that it will rebound in the second half of the year, although at a lower rate than previously expected.

The Sharper Image, meanwhile, bucked the trend. May was a good month for the cataloger/retailer.

The Sharper Image reported a sales increase of 14 percent to $29.3 million from last May's $25.7 million.

Catalog sales were $8.8 million, a 44 percent increase from last year's $6.2 million. Its e-commerce division also saw its sales increase by 5 percent to $3.8 million from last year's $3.7 million.

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