Turkey Time for Comps

One of the weakest performances in comps this year ushered in the holiday selling season, with November chain store sales growth averaging 2.1%. That mediocre gain compares with a strong 3.8% comp in November 2005 and a softening from October’s gain of 3%. Mild weather curbed seasonal apparel demand; tough year-ago comparisons and lower gas prices that cut into wholesale clubs’ revenue contributed to sluggish comps. Source: International Council of Shopping Centers

Of companies tracked by Chain Store Age that reported November results, 62.7% produced positive comps. That ratio is weaker than usual for the year but represents an improvement from October.

The above chains showed notable momentum swings from October 2006 to November 2006.

November 2006 Comp-Store Sales GainersSource: Company reports
CompanySales (000)% change% change comps
American Eagle$247,000+21.4+14.0
Guess?67,800+16.5+12.1
Zumiez25,900+43.9+12.1
Children’s Place199,400+20.1+12.0
Limited Brands937,700+14.7+12.0
JoS. A. Bank50,600+20.8+9.6
Walgreen4,356,570+16.2+9.3
Federated2,385,000–8.9+8.5
CVS3,600,000+24.1+8.4
Cache23,300+5.4+8.0

November 2006 Comp-Store Sales Sliders

Source: Company reports
CompanySales (000)% change% change comps
Sharper Image$46,800–24.7–27.0
Wilsons Leather31,600–23.5–19.1
Pier 1 Imports144,315–14.7–15.3
Bon-Ton367,000+158.6–10.5
Deb Shops23,300–6.2–9.5
Christopher & Banks44,300–0.2–8.0
The Gap1,400,000–2.1–8.0
Cato60,900–1.9–6.0
Jo-Ann Stores185,300–2.6–4.6
Ann Taylor186,400+2.1–4.3
Hot Topic55,700+1.8–4.3

Monthly Sales Spotlight: Dollar General

The stock price of Dollar General took a rocky spin in November, first with a spike amid takeover speculation and then with a slight drop when the company reported plans to close 400 underperforming stores and take a charge related to elimination of “packaway” inventory. As a result, the chain will reduce its store-opening plan for 2007. Net income for the company declined 33.7% during the year’s first half, with factors cited such as lower markups due in part to a shift in sales mix toward consumable products, higher transportation expenses and an increase in the shrink rate. With the closure program aimed in part to get Dollar General back on track, an analysis of the chain’s comps shows little deviation from those of its peers, Family Dollar and Fred’s. Dollar Tree and 99 Cents Only, which don’t report monthly sales, announced 4% and 1.2% gains, respectively, in comps for their last quarterly periods ended in September or October.

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