Department Store Category Posts Dismal October Sales

Department stores across the board posted disappointing sales in October.

J.C. Penney Co. on Thursday said its October same-store sales fell 13%, not quite as much as Wall Street projected. However, the retailer said it expects a big drop-off in November sales and reduced its profit outlook for the third quarter.

Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 1 fell 12% to $1.36 billion, from $1.54 billion in the corresponding period last year.

J.C. Penney said the results reflect "ongoing declines in mall traffic and a pronounced slowdown in consumer spending, which continues to be influenced by financial market volatility and tightening credit availability."

The chain said its apparel divisions continued to be its strongest performers, with women's and children's clothing and women's accessories showing the best results in October. Its recently launched private brands "are achieving early success" despite economic conditions, it said in a statement. Home and fine jewelry were among the weakest segments.

Kohl's Inc. said Thursday that same-store sales fell 9% in October, a bigger drop than analysts expected, Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 1 fell nearly 5% to $1.21 billion.

Year-to-date, same-store sales fell 6%, while total sales rose nearly 2% to $11.15 billion.

In a statement, chief executive Kevin Mansell said Kohl's is managing inventory levels, gross margin and expenses to boost earnings.

Macy's Inc. reported a 6.3% drop in same-store sales for October. Bon-Ton Stores Inc.’s same-store sales fell 11.1%.

Nordstrom Inc. said its same-store sales tumbled 15.7%. The luxury retailer lowered its third-quarter earnings forecast as it continues to tackle a difficult economic environment.

Saks Inc. said Thursday its October same-store sales fell 16.6%. Analysts, on average, had expected the same-store sales to fall 11.8%.

Saks said its strongest businesses and categories in October were Saks Direct, men’s shoes, men’s contemporary apparel, fragrances, cosmetics, and women’s outerwear. The weakest categories were women’s apparel, men’s clothing, jewelry, and handbags.

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