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Department Stores Struggle

New York City The ongoing economic crisis continued to take a toll on department stores as they headed into the holiday shopping season. Macy's Inc. said Thursday that same-store sales fell 13.3%, hurt by fewer post-Thanksgiving shopping days during the period compared with last year. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected same-store sales to fall 12.1%.

Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 29 fell 14% to $2.33 billion from $2.71 billion last year.

Year-to-date, same-store sales fell 4.8% while total sales fell 6% to $19.29 billion from $20.43 billion a year ago.

The company said sales on the day after Thanksgiving were strong, but results were hurt by a later Thanksgiving, which lead to fewer post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping days compared with the prior year period. The late Thanksgiving date was also cited by other retailers as impacting their results.

Macy's said it still expects same-store sales during the fiscal fourth quarter ending in January to be down 1% to 6%.

In other results:

  • Nordstrom Inc.’s same-store sales plunged 15.9% in November, but its results still topped Wall Street expectations. Year-to-date sales decreased 6.2% to $6.68 billion, while same-store-sales fell 8.6%;

  • Kohl's Corp. said its same-store sales for November fell 17.5%, compared to the target for a loss of 16.6% in a survey of Wall Street analysts by Thomson Reuters. Total sales dipped 13.7% to $1.75 billion. “November sales results were as expected, affected by both lower traffic than last year, and a significant sales shift due to a later Thanksgiving," Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s president and CEO, commented. "Post-Thanksgiving results have been significantly stronger than our prior trend, driven by planned strong promotion";

  • J. C. Penney Co.’s same-store sales decreased 11.9% for the four-week period ended Nov. 29, in line with the company’s guidance for a low double-digit decrease. Total company sales in November slipped 11.5%. For the November period, women’s apparel and family shoes were the top-performing merchandise divisions, while fine jewelry continued to experience softer sales performance. Geographically, the best-performing area of the country was the Northwest region;

  • Saks Inc.’s November same-store sales fell 5.2%, better than Wall Street had expected thanks to strength in some apparel categories. Total sales for the four-weeks ended Nov. 29 came in at $332.9, down 4.2% from the year ago period;

  • Dillard's said its same-store sales dropped by 9% in November, less than analysts had expected. Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 29 fell to $505.8 million last month from $559.3 million a year ago; and

  • The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.’s same-store sales fell 16% in November. Total sales for the four weeks ended Nov. 29 fell 16% to $332.3 million from $393.1 million last year. Best-sellers during the month included seasonal products, accessories, outerwear and shoes. Weaker categories included furniture, juniors, petite sportswear and men's sportswear.

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