It’s been a mixed bag of holiday sales filings from US apparel and footwear brands and retailers as Urban Outfitters reported record holiday sales, Kohl’s raised its full-year earnings guidance on the back of a 1.2% rise, while US retail giant JC Penney is to shutter three stores this spring on the back of a 5.4% comp sales drop.
Nordstrom announced a comparable sales increase of 1.3% for the nine weeks ended 5 January, compared to the year-ago period. The upscale US department store operator said in full-price, comparable sales increased 0.3%, relative to the third quarter year-to-date increase of 1.9%, reflecting softer traffic in stores. In off-price, comparable sales climbed 3.9%, which was consistent with year-to-date trends and expectations. Digital sales for the company surged 18% over the same period last year, representing 36% of sales. While year-to-date comparable sales of 2.1% were in-line with the company’s outlook, full-price sales were below expectations. As a result, Nordstrom has incorporated in its annual expectations higher markdowns taken during holiday and to reposition inventory to a more appropriate level by the end of the year. Earnings per diluted share are expected to be around the low end of the company’s prior outlook range of $3.27 to $3.37.
US value fashion retailer Citi Trends said total sales in the first two months of the fourth quarter of 2018 decreased 1.9% to US$161.9m, compared with $165.1m in the same period of 2017. Comparing the nine weeks ended 5 January 2019 with the nine weeks ended 6 January 2018, comparable store sales decreased 0.7% during the two-month period, following a 4.8% increase in last year’s fiscal November/December timeframe.
CEO Bruce Smith said: “Comparable store sales are up 1.4% for the 11 months year-to-date; however, similar in many respects to what we saw in the third quarter, fashion misses in November and December caused comparable store sales to decrease 0.7%. Importantly, we are on track to enter the spring season in a clean inventory position.”
Urban Outfitters has reported record holiday sales for the two months ended 31 December. Total company net sales increased 5% in the period compared with last year. Comparable retail segment net sales were also up by 5%, driven by strong, double-digit growth in the digital channel, partially offset by negative retail store sales. By brand, comparable retail segment net sales increased 6% at Free People, 5% at Urban Outfitters and 4% at the Anthropologie Group. Wholesale segment net sales increased 3%.
Macy’s has delivered its second consecutive year of positive holiday comparable sales but cut guidance for its fiscal year in a move that sent shares tumbling by more than 18% in pre-market trading on 10 January. The Cincinnati-based retailer reported comparable sales growth of 1.1% (0.7% on an owned merchandise only basis) in November/December 2018. The holiday season began strong – particularly during Black Friday and the following Cyber Week, but weakened in the mid-December period and did not return to expected patterns until the week of Christmas, CEO Jeff Gennette said. The retailer saw a strong performance across a number of categories including women’s shoes, dresses, outerwear, and active in the period but said this sales growth was largely offset by the underperformance of other categories such as women’s sportswear, and seasonal sleepwear.
Brian Cornell, CEO of US department store retailer Target, says the company is very pleased with its holiday season performance, which saw a 5.7% rise in comparable sales in the combined November/December period, on top of 3.4% growth in the same period last year. The Minneapolis-based company said results reflected strong traffic, positive store comps and comparable digital sales growth of 29%. Target expects that 2018 will be the fifth consecutive year in which its digital sales grow more than 25%.
“Given our fourth quarter outlook, we are on track to deliver Target’s strongest full-year comparable sales growth since 2005, market-share gains across all of our core merchandising categories, and double digit growth in Adjusted EPS,” Cornell adds.
US retail chain Kohl’s has seen a 1.2% growth in sales over the Christmas period and has raised its full-year earnings guidance. Michelle Gass, CEO at the retailer, which sells clothing among other items, attributed this to “a compelling product offering, great marketing strategy, and consistent execution in stores and online.” The company says it expects its fiscal 2018 diluted earnings per share to be US$5.50 to $5.55, compared to its prior guidance of $5.35 to $5.55.
US retail giant JC Penney is to shutter three stores this spring on the back of a 5.4% drop in comparable sales on an unshifted basis for the combined nine-week period ending 5 January. On a shifted basis, comp sales fell by 3.5%. In its holiday sales performance update, the company said the closures are part of an ongoing evaluation of its store portfolio under new CEO Jill Soltau. The evaluation will take place over the next few months and includes assessing locations that may not meet required financial targets or represent a market opportunity to capitalise on a beneficial real estate asset.