FINANCE

December Comps Gain 3.2%

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Aflurry of shopping in late December helped retailers post a moderately strong month of sales. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), year-over-year comp-store sales for the industry increased 3.2%. This year’s tally bested December 2004, which showed comp-store-sales growth of 2.7%.

For the two-month holiday period, comps grew 3.5%, much stronger than the 2.3% gain registered in the same two-month period in 2004. For all of 2005, chain-store comps grew 3.7%, just off the pace of the previous year. The world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores, finished the month with comps of 2.2%, near the low end of its previous guidance, while rival Target Corp. posted a gain of 4.7%. One of the glaring sales disappointments is Gap Inc., which posted a comp-store decline of 9.0% in the month. In January, the ICSC expects same-store sales to increase 3.0% to 3.5%.

Other notable comp-store performances include:

Abercrombie & Fitch, 29.0% gain

Chico’s FAS, 16.4% gain

Costco Wholesale, 7.0% gain

Guess?, 17.5% gain

New York & Co.; 10.9% gain

Sharper Image, 15.0% decline

United Retail, 16.0% gain

Wet Seal, 38.5% gain

Wilsons Leather, 7.7% decline

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Bed Bath & Beyond Names President

BY CSA STAFF

Union, N.J., Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. gave its chief merchandising officer Arthur Stark the additional title of president.

Additionally, the retailer promoted Eugene A. Castagna to CFO and treasurer from the post of VP of finance and principal financial and accounting officer. He succeeds Richard Curwin, who was named to the newly created position of senior VP of investor relations.

Bed Bath & Beyond also named Richard C. McMahon to the new post of chief strategy officer and VP of corporate operations. He most recently served the retailer as VP of supply chain and CIO.

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FINANCE

Holiday Brings No Joy For Trans World Entertainment

BY CSA STAFF

Albany, N.Y., Trans World Entertainment reported a comps decrease of 7% for the five-week period ended Dec. 31, and a comps decline of 8% for the nine-week period ended the same date.

“Sales for the quarter have been affected by a general weakness in our industry,” said chairman and CEO Robert J. Higgins. He added that in light of Trans World’s disappointing holiday performance, the retailer’s earnings for its 2005 fiscal year are expected to be down from the prior year. He estimated earnings for the year will be zero to 5? per share, as compared to an earlier forecast of 25? to 30? per share.

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