February sales improve for many retailers
New York – Following a bitterly cold and stormy January that left many retailers with disappointing monthly sales figures, February’s sales results were generally a bit more encouraging. Chain store sales posted a gain of 2.7% for the fiscal month of February on a year-over-year basis, according to a tally of comparable-store sales compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
Chains across a variety of sectors reported increases in both same-store sales and total net sales as compared to February 2013, despite poor weather continuing into the first half of the month across much of the U.S.
Following are overviews of how the shortest month of the year treated a number of major U.S. chain retailers. All figures are compared to results in February 2013.
The Buckle: Net sales increased 0.2% to $89.5 million from $89.3 million; same-store sales dropped 1.4%.
Cato Corp.: Net sales rose 3% to $87.4 million from $84 million; same-store sales climbed 1%.
Costco: Net sales climbed 4% to $7.9 billion from $7.58 billion; same-store sales improved 3%.
Fred’s Inc.: Net sales declined 1.5% to $157 million from $159.5 million; same-store sales decreased 2.2%.
L Brands: Net sales grew 5% to $750 million from $712.7 million; same-store sales increased 2%.
Rite Aid: Total drugstore sales increased 2.4% to $2.51 billion from $2.46 billion; same-store sales grew 1.5%.
Stein Mart: Net sales dropped 2.5% to $84.5 million from $86.7 million; same-store sales declined 2.1%.
Zumiez: Net sales climbed 9% to $48.4 million from $44.5 million; same-store sales rose 2%.
Sustainability and Walmart CEO McMillon take center stage
An estimated 3,000 suppliers and Walmart’s top executives are scheduled to participate in the retailers Product Sustainability Expo to be held from April 29 through May 1.
Promotional materials for the event, to be held at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Ark., describe it as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate amazing advances in sustainability and to discover emerging opportunities and innovations that represent a new standard in retail.
“It has been almost five years since we announced our intention to set a new retail standard for the 21st century through the development of a Sustainability Index,” according to an invitation sent to suppliers. “Since then, we have been ‘building sustainability into the nuts and bolts of what we do as a retailer — buying and selling merchandise,’” according to Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart’s chief merchandising and marketing officer.
Plans call for key business leaders to address sustainability priorities, recognize key partnerships and discuss challenges that require attention. Also on tap at the event is a presentation by Walmart’s new president and CEO Doug McMillon who is making his first address at the event since assuming leadership of the company last month.
New details shared on Walmart’s small formats
Walmart’s tepid sales performance in the fourth quarter is water under the bridge, so when Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon spoke this week at an investor conference he quickly focused on the growth potential of smaller stores, which are being expanded at a more rapid pace.
Simon spoke Tuesday at the Raymond James Institutional Investor Conference and he wasted no time displaying his enthusiasm for smaller stores that are outperforming competitors and delivering industry leading sales per sq. ft. In the fourth quarter, Walmart’s Neighbhood Market stores produced a 5% increase in same store sales and for the year the comp was 4%. Also of note is the fact that each of the stores in the fleet of more than 300 units produced a positive comp even though some locations are more than 10 years old.
According to Simon, Neighborhood Market gives Walmart the opportunity to capture the incremental sales it misses out on when customers forego one of the company’s 3,200 supercenters in favor of a more convenient alternative. The format gives Walmart the opportunity to capture a different type of trip and new customers, according to Simon.
Click here to see what else he had to say about Neighborhood Market, the even smaller Walmart Express and the interplay with e-commerce.