FINANCE

The Buckle, Aeropostale Lead Specialty Apparel Retailers in September

BY CSA STAFF

New York City The nation’s specialty-apparel retailers reported dismal sales for September as the financial meltdown took its toll on shoppers. However, there were some notable exceptions to the trend. The Buckle Inc. on Thursday said September same-store sales rose 19.7%. For the five-week period ended Oct. 4, total sales rose 26% to $72.8 million.

In another bright spot, Aeropostale Inc. said its same-store sales rose 5% in September, ahead of Wall Street’s expectations. Year-to-date, same-store sales rose 24.9% and total sales rose 32% to $480.4 million.

Other retailers did not fare so well. The chains reporting a downturn in same-store sales in September included:

Hot Topic Inc. said same-store sales fell 1.8% in September, a smaller drop than analysts were expecting.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters forecast a 4.3% decline in same-store sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 4.

Stage Stores Inc. said Thursday that September same-store sales declined 13.6%, and the company said it will miss third-quarter guidance ‘significantly’ due to the sales shortfall and hurricanes.

Chico’s FAS Inc. said Thursday that its September same-store sales fell 15.6%. Analysts, on average, had expected same-store sales to decline 18.5%, according to Thomson Reuters. Net sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 4 fell 9.3% to $159.5 million.

Cato Corp. said Thursday same-store sales fell 3% in September because of a slowdown in consumer spending and hurricanes in the Gulf Coast.

Zumiez Inc. said that its same-store sales dropped a worse-than-expected 9% in September.

Total sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 4 slipped 2% to $64.8 million from $65.8 million. Year-to-date, same-store sales declined 1%.

Ross Stores reported sales of $561 million for the five weeks ended Oct. 4, a 5% increase over the same period last year. Same-store sales declined 2%.

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Wal-Mart posts strong comps across all divisions

BY CSA STAFF

Wal-Mart Stores reported September net sales for the five weeks ended Oct. 3 of $36.23 billion, a 5.8% increase over $34.23 billion in September 2007. Walmart U.S. posted net sales of $22.48 billion, a 4.8% increase over $21.45 billion in September 2007; Sam’s Club had net sales of $4.39 billion, an 8% increase over $4.07 billion in 2007; and International net sales were $9.36 billion, a 7.3% boost over $8.72 billion in September of 2007.

Total U.S. comparable-store sales rose 2.4% without fuel, versus a 1.4% rise in September 2007. Walmart U.S. comps rose 2%, compared to 0.8% in 2007, while Sam’s Club comparable-club sales rose 4.6%, compared to 4.4% in September 2007.

The net impact of Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike on total U.S. comparable-store and club sales was approximately negative 0.4 percentage points.

"In spite of both the impact from the hurricanes and the recent challenges to consumer confidence as a result of the economic environment, Walmart U.S. had another period of solid comparable-store sales performance," said Eduardo Castro-Wright, Walmart U.S. president and ceo. "We continue to believe that the strong Walmart value proposition is bringing more and more customers to our stores. We are confident that the customers will continue to shop with us as we enter the holiday season."

Comparable-store sales during the September period were strong in both grocery and health and wellness. Sales in grocery were led by food and consumables. Children’s clothing was positive during the September period, while sales of discretionary items were soft.

September sales at Sam’s Club were driven by strengths in fresh food, with produce leading the category. Within general merchandise, apparel sales were strong, while housewares, furniture, video games and electronics saw softer sales. Within electronics, LCD TVs and small electronic devices, such as GPS units and digital audio, performed well.

"Sam’s Club members continue to search for value in this economy," said Doug McMillon, Sam’s Club president and ceo. "Food and consumables, including fresh foods, are driving increases in comparable-club traffic and ticket. While discretionary items are under pressure, members are reacting positively to new items. Price is the primary focus, but newness and quality still matter to them."

The Company expects U.S. comparable-store sales for the October four-week period to be between 1% and 2%, said cfo Tom Schoewe. "The September period included two first-of-the-month paydays, which generally benefit sales," Schoewe said. "However, the October period this year contains no first-of-the-month payday, and that is accounted for in our estimate. We maintain our current estimate for earnings per share from continuing operations for the third quarter ending Oct. 31, to be in the range of 73 cents and 76 cents per share."

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PacSun net sales drop 4% in Sept., 3Q

BY CSA STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. Pacific Sunwear of California reported net sales for the month of September, ended Oct. 4, of $91.2 million, a decrease of 4% from $95.1 million in September 2007. Same-store sales decreased 5%.

Net sales for the third quarter of 2008 were $254.3 million, a decrease of 4% from $265.1 million during the same period last year. Third-quarter same-store sales decreased 6%.

As a result of increased markdown activity, PacSun now expects fiscal 2008 third-quarter earnings to be at the low end of its previously announced earnings guidance range of 0 to 5 cents per diluted share.

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