OPERATIONS

Cyber Monday shoppers seek shipping, registration improvement

BY Dan Berthiaume

Mountain View, Calif. – While shipping costs (21%) and registration (20%) were the features that users said needed the most improvement respectively, consumers felt very comfortable purchasing from the Web’s top online retailers on Cyber Monday. UserTesting.com tested the Top 10 of NRF’s Favorite 50 2013 retailers and found that with regard to user sentiment statements on a scale of 1-5, the highest rated statement was "I feel comfortable purchasing from the website" with an average score of 4.41, while the lowest rated statement was "I found the website to be attractive" with an average score of 3.8.

Other features rated as needing improvement included trust symbols (17%), access to customer service (12%) and payment method options (9%). The average likeliness a user would leave a site based on the feature that needs most improvement was 3.5 on a 1-5 scale.

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FINANCE

Ascena Retail Group reports Q1 increase

BY Dan Berthiaume

Suffern, N.Y. – Ascena Retail Group, parent company of Lane Bryant and Justice, reported net income of $52.6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, a 22% increase from $43.1 million a year earlier.

Net sales totaled roughly $1.2 billion, a 5% increase from about $1.14 billion.

In addition, consolidated same-store sales grew 2%, while consolidated e-commerce sales increased 27% from the first quarter of the prior fiscal year. Looking ahead, Ascena reaffirmed guidance of consolidated same-store sales growth in the low single digits for the full fiscal year, and also expects to open 180 to 190 new stores and close 130 to 140 existing stores during the year.

“We were pleased that our top line momentum continued into the first quarter, with all of our brands generating positive total comps,” said David Jaffe, president and CEO of Ascena. “We also continued to make progress on our strategic priorities during the quarter, including our synergy initiatives, which will position the business for long term growth.”

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FINANCE

Shoe Carnival has disappointing Q3

BY Dan Berthiaume

Evansville, Ind. – Shoe Carnival had a generally disappointing third quarter fiscal 2013, with net income falling 11% to $10.9 million from $12.2 million. Net sales also declined 3.5%, from $244.4 million to $235.8 million.

Shoe Carnival attributed part of the year-over-year decline to a shift from a 53-week to a 52-week fiscal year, which resulted in one fewer week of back-to-school shopping activity in the third quarter and about $21.2 million less in sales.

“The arrival of October’s seasonably cool weather and an end to the federal government shutdown was a welcomed relief in the third quarter,” said Cliff Sifford, president and CEO of Shoe Carnival. “October’s mid-single digit comparable store sales gain, together with August’s sales performance, more than offset our negative September sales trend. Higher merchandise margins coupled with lower expenses than were originally projected resulted in earnings at the high-end of our expectations.”

The company opened eight new stores during the third quarter of fiscal 2013 as compared to six stores in the third quarter of fiscal 2012. Shoe Carnival expects fourth quarter net sales to be in the range of $215 miilion to $219 million with a comparable store sales increase in the range of 4% to 6%.

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