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Discount sector posts strong January showing

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — There were few missteps among the discounters in January, as most posted strong results, many surpassing Wall Street expectations.

Target reported a same-store sales rise of 3.1%, topping Wall Street expectations. Total sales surged 29.6% to $5.97 billion in January.

“January comparable-store sales were in line with our expectations as guests responded to clearance prices on holiday inventory," said Gregg Steinhafel, president and CEO, Target Corp. "Our guests continue to shop with discipline in the face of a slow economic recovery and new pressures, including recent payroll tax increases. As a result, we remain focused on providing unbeatable value combined with a superior guest experience in both our stores and digital channels.”

Warehouse club operator Costco posted a 4% same-store sales rise in January and a 7% total sales gain to $9.35 billion.

TJX Cos. also showed its muscle in January, reporting a 3% rise in same-store sales and upping its fourth-quarter and full-year guidance.

Among the other discounters that reported January comps:

  • Ross Dress for Less rose 4%;
  • SteinMart increased 4.6%;
  • Fred’s increased a hefty 28.6%; and
  • Alco posted a 21.4% rise with fuel, but dipped 1% without.

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Retail sales results mixed in January

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Although there were some surprising gains among retailers in January, for the most part results were expectedly mixed, as consumers took a hit on their take-home pay from higher payroll taxes but cooler weather gave a boost to others.

Costco Wholesale Corp. edged Wall Street expectations with a 4% same-store sales increase in January; analysts forecast a 3.9% advance. TJX Cos. reported a 3% rise in monthly same-store sales, and raised its fourth quarter and full-year outlook. Kohl’s shone with a 13.3% rise, but The Buckle widely missed with a 2% drop.

Overall, analysts expect 3.5% same-store sales growth for January across 18 retailers, excluding Walgreens and Rite-Aid, according to Thomson Reuters. That would be down from 4.4% growth in January 2012.

Most of the specialty store players performed well in January. Gap saw same-store sales rise 8% in January, handily beating Wall Street’s expected 4% gain. By brand, same-store sales rose 12% at Old Navy and 8% at both Gap and Banana Republic. Total revenue for the month rose 28% to $1.13 billion.

“We’re pleased with the continued momentum in the business across all our brands in North America,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO, Gap Inc. “As we transition to 2013, our focus remains on delivering compelling product in order to sustain our positive sales performance.”

The Limited also delivered a strong January showing. Same-store sales surged 9%, and total sales rose to $986.4 million from $774.5 million.

Wet Seal, on the other hand, disappointed with a steep same-store sales decline of 9.4%, far wider than the 2.3% drop expected by Wall Street. The struggling retailer found some success with its Arden B chain, which rose 22.8% on a same-store basis, but namesake stores plummeted 13.4%.

Other specialty store results include:

  • The Buckle dropped 2%, while analysts expected a 1.3% gain;
  • Hot Topic rose 2.6%;
  • Cato dropped 12%;
  • Stage rose 10.5%; and
  • Zumiez same-store sales rose 2.6%.

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Whirlpool, Habitat build hope in Benton Harbor

BY CSA STAFF

BENTON HARBOR, Mich.— Whirlpool Corporation (WHR) and Harbor Habitat for Humanity have completed construction on the homes built in partnership with Tynisha Murphy and the Patterson family, dedicating the homes in a ceremony that took place Dec. 8. The builds took place on side-by-side lots in the Harbor Shores community of Benton Harbor.

"We couldn’t be happier about our long-standing partnership with Whirlpool Corporation," said Erin Hudson, Executive Director of Harbor Habitat for Humanity. "The dedication of the company and its tireless volunteers has truly made a difference in our community and in communities across the country."

Through this build, and the volunteer hours the family put in, Patrick and Brunetta Patterson have achieved their goal of home ownership – improving the living situation for their three daughters and two grandchildren. The Pattersons, who are actively involved in their local church, Our Center for Better Living, never believed that would be possible.

"We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to become homeowners," said Patrick Patterson. "It has been an absolute pleasure to work side-by-side with these volunteers. Without Habitat for Humanity and Whirlpool, our dream never would have become a reality."

The build is part of Whirlpool Corporation-sponsored Habitat builds that took place throughout the United States in 2012. Whirlpool also sponsored homes in Amana, Iowa, Clyde, Ohio and at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind.

Whirlpool has been a partner of Habitat for Humanity International for 12 years, supporting Habitat’s work in 240 countries and sponsoring more than 100 homes since the partnership began in 1999. In that time, the company has donated a range and ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator to every Habitat home in the U.S. and Canada, totaling more than 140,000 appliances. Whirlpool also supports and participates in the annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project and is the first corporation to provide on-going donations to Habitat for Humanity ReStore resale outlets, helping to raise an additional $4.6 million for the organization.

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