Dallas Zale Corp. said Thursday that its same-store sales plunged 22% in December, although the jewelry retailer said sales improved during the week leading up to Christmas and have also been better since the holidays.
Zale said same-store sales dropped 19.6% for the entire holiday selling period of November and December. Total revenue for the two-month period fell 19.5% to $582 million, from $723 million a year ago.
Zale CEO Neal Goldberg, who described the holiday season as "the most difficult in memory," said he believes the company has benefited from improvements to both merchandise and management over the past year.
"We believe that we are in a strong position to benefit from the winnowing of competitors that we have already seen, and we intend to continue driving improvements in product and efficiency," Goldberg said. He said the company "will take whatever actions are necessary to adjust expense levels and inventory spend to sales trends during 2009."
Zale noted that inventory levels as of Dec. 31, were about $115 million below the prior year's levels.