Macy’s and Nordstrom top estimates in December; Kohl’s misses

New York -- As cash-strapped consumers curtailed holiday spending, department store retailers felt the pinch and some performed better than others in an uncertain environment. The strongest performances were turned in by Macy’s and Nordstrom, both topping estimates.

Overall, analysts looked for 3.3% same-store sales growth for December across 17 chains, down from 4.2% growth in December 2011, according to Thomson Reuters.
Macy's reported a rise in December same-store sales of 4.1%, edging Wall Street’s expected 4% rise, and a total monthly sales gain of 3.6% to $5.102 billion. But the department store heavy-hitter cuts its guidance for the fourth quarter and detailed a series of “normal-course adjustments” to its store portfolio that include closing six underperforming stores. The chain will open nine other Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s around the country to rebuild its total store count.
CEO Terry Lundgren said the rate of comp growth was less than the retailer expected, but that was due partly to uncertain economic news and the lingering effects of Superstorm Sandy.
“Last month was our fourth consecutive December with same-store sales growth, which is indicative of the sustainability of our key business strategies,” said Lundgren. “While the rate of growth was somewhat less than we had expected in the first two months of the fourth quarter, it came amid some significant headwinds from uncertain economic news and the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy.”

Kohl’s Corp. saw same-store sales rise 3.4% in December, along with a total sales increase of 4%, falling below company expectations.  “December sales were lower than planned,” said CEO Kevin Mansell. “Additionally, sales came late in the holiday shopping season and, as a result, were at deeper discounts than planned. We are taking the necessary markdowns in the fourth quarter to manage our inventory as we transition into the spring season.”

Among other department stores reporting:

•    Nordstrom recorded an 8.6% rise in December same-store sales, beating the 3.6% estimate; and
•    Bon-Ton Stores grew 2.4%.

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