US: Retailers' December 2011 sales roundup
The following is a general roundup of US apparel and shoe retailers' December 2011 sales results.
Department store operator Saks recorded sales gains during December, with women's and men's contemporary apparel, handbags, women's shoes, fine jewellery, men's accessories and fragrances showing the strongest gains. Comparable-store sales increased 5.8%, while consolidated sales were up 4.7% to $452.5m.
Similarly, Macy's posted December gains, with same-store sales up 6.2% in December. Sales rose 6.6% to $4.9bn. Company president and CEO Terry Lundgren said that December sales continued "very strong at Macy's and Bloomingdales" and that the company is "solidly on track to exceed our expectations for same-store sales in the fourth-quarter".
Upmarket department store chain Nordstrom also posted a strong December performance, with same-store sales up 8.7%. Total retail sales increased 12.7% to $1.57bn.
Ross Stores said it was "very pleased" with its performance, as it posted "better than expected" results with comparable-store sales up 9%. Sales increased 14% during December to reach $1.14bn. Company vice chairman and CEO Michael Balmuth said that the results reflect that value-seeking shoppers continue to respond favourably to the "wide array of compelling name brand bargains throughout our stores".
Also reporting growth driven by a strong value proposition, TJX said that its December results "exceeded expectations", with comparable-store sales up 8%. Consolidated net sales also increased 8% to $3.3bn. The company attributed the gains to its decision to "price aggressively in order to reinforce our value position in a very promotional retail environment", said CEO Carol Meyrowitz.
Meanwhile, Denim retail specialist The Buckle saw sales in comparable-stores open at least one year increase 8.9% over the five weeks ended 31 December. Net sales rose 12.4% over the period to reach US$181m.
Limited Brands, which owns the Victoria's Secret lingerie chain, reported a jump in comparable-store sales during December. Comparable store sales increased 7%, with net sales increasing 4.35% to US$1.86bn. The company said that total sales were negatively impacted by the sale of its third-party apparel sourcing business in the beginning of November.
Dillard's recorded a 4% comparable-store sales increase during December, with total sales up 3% to $1.1bn. The company said that sales were better than the average total in the central region. However, sales were below trend in the eastern and western regions.
Zumiez has raised its fourth-quarter guidance on the back of its better than expected December results. The company said that comparable-store sales increased 10%, as total sales increased 18.1% to $104.6m. The company now expects fourth quarter sales to reach $180-181m.
Stage Stores reported that comparable-store store sales increased 1.2% over the period. Sales were up 2.9% to US$274m. The company said that it saw increases in its children's, footwear, junior's and petites categories over the month. However, company president and CEO Andy Hall said that its cold weather initiative was "not as successful as anticipated due to the negative impact from warm weather". Hall admitted that promotional pressures during December following Black Friday will hit fourth-quarter gross margin rates.
However, Target said that its December sales were "below our expectations" as the company recorded a 1.6% increase in comparable-store sales during December. Total sales were up 2.6% to $10.1bn. Company chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said that sales and traffic were strongest in the week leading up to Christmas as customers waited to shop for last minute gifts.
Also recording "below expectation" results was Gap Inc. The company said that net sales fell 1.5% to US$1.98bn as comparable-store sales declined 4%.Company chairman, president and CEO Glenn Murphy said that while the company "competed aggressively" across its brands, its performance was "below our expectations".
Young women's fashion retailer Wet Seal saw December comparable-store store sales decline 2.1% as the company focused on maintaining merchandise margins through less aggressive promotional levels. Net sales were up 0.2%. The company said that over the month, e-commerce sales fell 20% over the month, "reflects an improvements from prior months driven by progress in the Wet Seal division toward better aligned merchandising between the online channel and the stores".
Cato also saw same-store stores decline, down 1% over December. Consolidated sales, however, increased by 2% to US$107.5m. Chairman, president and CEO John Cato said the results were "in-line with expectations". The company expects fourth-quarter earnings per share to be toward the "lower end of our original guidance range" of $0.32-0.35. The company closed 12 stores over the month.
Stein Mart recorded declining sales, down 0.2% on the previous year. Comparable-store sales were flat. The company said that it recorded stronger sales of ladies' casual sportswear, accessories, and intimate apparel, while ladies' boutique and career sportswear showed weaker sales.
Kohl's also reported a slight weakening in comparable-store sales, down 0.1% during December. However, total sales increased 1.7% to $3.2bn. Company chairman, president and CEO Keven Mansell said that the results were "short of our expectations" despite being an improvement on November's results. E-commerce sales increased 48% over the prior year period. He attributed the weakened result to sluggish sales in cold-weather categories.
JC Penney recorded a 0.3% increase in comparable-store sales during December, despite total sales falling 2.3% to $2.8bn over the period. The company said that while overall sales and traffic were "softer than expected", it noted better trends during the week leading up to Christmas and increases in traffic on jcp.com over the "key holiday shopping periods of the week after Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas". Over the month, children's apparel and women's accessories were the top performing categories.
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