News

December Sales Disappoint

BY Robert Gordman

The commonly reported monthly comparable-store-sales change provides an interesting snapshot of one month’s performance. The longer range trend provides a truer insight into what is actually happening with an individual retailer or in an entire channel. The following analysis highlights retailers who have established consistently improving or declining long-term comparable-store-sales trends.

Observations

Companies with improving 90 day and six-month trends experience a greater rate of improvement in December. The opposite also appears to be true. Weakening trends are also amplified in December. It appears that companies who understand their core customers and serve their needs gain extra benefit when the customers are spending the most.

Monthly Reporters With an Improving Six-Month Trend

Source: The Gordman Group
Retailer Dec. 2005 Dec 2006 Previous 90 Days Previous Six Months
Gottschalks 3.7% 2.1% 0.4% 0.0%
Gymboree 16.0% 15.0% 11.7% 11.3%
Neiman Marcus 8.6% 7.1% 6.1% 6.0%
Pacific Sunwear 1.0% –3.2% –4.2% –6.2%
Pier 1 Imports –4.8% –10.7% –13.1% –13.8%
Saks Fifth Ave 3.1% 11.1% 9.2% 7.2%
TJX Cos. 6.0% 6.0% 5.7% 4.9%

Monthly Reporters With a Declining Six-Month Trend

Source: The Gordman Group
Retailer Dec. 2005 Dec. 2006 Previous 90 Days Previous Six Months
Abercrombie & Fitch 29.0% –1.0% 1.6% 1.9%
Ann Taylor 1.5% –5.3% 0.5% 3.5%
Bon-Ton 0.8% –5.8% –2.4% 0.0%
Chico’s FAS 16.4% –2.0% –0.7% 0.9%
Claire’s 4.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.9%
CVS 7.3% 8.5% 8.8% 9.0%
Dillard’s 1.0% –5.0% –2.4% –2.0%
Family Dollar 2.3% 1.2% 1.9% 3.4%
Gap –9.0% –8.0% –5.8% –4.5%
Longs Drug Stores 2.4% 1.0% 2.0% 2.2%
Rite-Aid 3.9% 2.6% 3.4% 3.6%
Stage Stores 7.3% 2.2% 2.8% 3.6%
Walgreen Co 6.2% 7.9% 9.7% 9.8%

Quarterly Reporters With an Improving Nine-Month Trend

Source: The Gordman Group
Reatailer Last Reported Quarter Last Six Months Last Nine Months
Amazon 24.3% 23.2% 22.1%
Big Lots 5.8% 5.5% 4.5%
Cabela’s 3.1% –1.0% –0.8%
Cost Plus –1.3% –2.2% –2.9%
Dick’s Sporting Goods 8.9% 7.7% 7.3%
Famous Footwear 8.2% 4.4% 3.6%
Finish Line –3.3% –5.1% –5.8%
GameStop 8.8% 6.3% 2.9%
Hibbett Sporting Goods 7.1% 4.1% 2.6%
Naturalizer 6.0% 1.8% 1.5%
Payless ShoeSource 5.2% 3.7% 2.6%
QVC 12.1% 11.1% 9.4%
Sears Holdings –4.8% –5.6% –6.5%
Talbots Inc. 2.3% 1.8% 1.5%

Quarterly Reporters with a Declining Nine-Month Trend

Source: The Gordman Group
Retailer Last Reported Quarter Last Six Months Last Nine Months
Circuit City 5.1% 6.6% 8.9%
Guitar Center 2.9% 4.0% 4.7%
Lowe’s –4.0% –0.2% 1.6%
RadioShack –9.6% –6.4% –4.6%
Urban Outfitters Inc –10.0% –8.6% –6.9%

For a full listing of monthly sales performance, visit www.chainstoreage.com, and click on Monthly Sales under the “Industry Data” headline, on the left column.

Robert Gordman is the president of The Gordman Group, Denver, and is the author of “The Must-Have Customer—7 Steps to Winning the Customer You Haven’t Got.”

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OPERATIONS

Victoria’s Secret Names New CEO

BY CSA STAFF

Columbus, Ohio, Limited Brands Inc. on Monday announced that Lori Greeley will replace Grace Nichols as CEO of Victoria’s Secret Stores. Greeley is currently executive VP and general merchandising manager of intimates for Victoria’s Secret.

The retirement of Nichols, a 20-year Limited veteran, from the CEO post was announced in May 2006. She will take a new role supporting initiatives within Victoria’s Secret, including the growth of its Intimissimi brand.

Additionally, Mark Weikel, COO of Victoria’s Secret Stores, will add the title of president.

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FINANCE

Wal-Mart to Focus on Expanding Seiyu

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Wal-Mart Stores is open to acquisition opportunities in Japan, but the retailer is more focused on expanding business at its 53%-owned Seiyu chain, according to a report by Reuters. Shares of Seiyu jumped Monday after Wal-Mart vice chairman Michael Duke told the Nikkei business daily that the company might look for more acquisition opportunities in Japan.

The paper reported that Duke welcomed planned changes in corporate laws in May that will enable foreign companies to buy Japanese firms through share swaps.

Wal-Mart last year tried to invest in superstore operator Daiei Inc., aiming to boost its presence in the country, but it lost the chance to Aeon Co., Japan’s second-biggest retail group.

Wal-Mart entered the Japanese market in 2002 by taking a small stake in Seiyu. It has since invested more than $1 billion in the chain, but has yet to return the retailer to profitability.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Wyatt said Wal-Mart’s focus in Japan is on Seiyu.

“It’s a very sizable business today, so we still think that there are a lot of growth opportunities in the existing business,” she said.

In terms of acquisitions, she said: “I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re shopping for them.”

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