November Comps Grow 3.5%

New York City, Black Friday launched a shopping frenzy across the country and helped lift November same-store sales to a 3.5% year-over-year increase, according to the tally by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). But some analysts see a promotional aspect to November’s gains. “The strength was largely driven by promotions and did not provide as strong of a start to the holiday season as some retailers would have liked,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. That makes December sales even more critical than usual, he said. Unlike last year, Wal-Mart Stores got a jump on the holiday season—its 4.3% gain outpaced rival Target Corp. for the first time this year. At the mall, Federated suffered a comp-store sales decline of 3.4%, its worst sales performance since March 2003. The ICSC predicts December comps will post another modest 3.5% gain.

In terms of comp-store sales, some of the big winners for the month of November include:

• Abercrombie & Fitch posted a gain of 23.0%.

• Gymboree posted a gain of 22.0%.

• American Eagle posted a gain of 17.3%.

• Wet Seal posted a gain of 51.5%.

• Chico’s FAS posted a gain of 11.8%.

Some of the comp-store decliners for the month include:

• Gap Inc. posted a comp-store sales decline of 4.0%.

• Bombay Co. posted a comps decline of 12.4%.

• Sharper Image posted a comp-store decline of 18.0%

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