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ICSC: Retail Comps Increase 2.2% in April

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, There was a chill in the air across much of the retail landscape country in April. Part of it was the weather, and part of it was the chilling effect of high gas prices on retail spending. Plus, retail sales were depressed by an unusual calendar shift that pushed Easter spending into March. Through it all, April same-store sales increased 2.2% on a year-over-year basis, according to the tally from the International Council of Shopping Centers, modestly surpassing expectations.

Giant Wal-Mart Stores posted a mere 0.1% comparable store sales growth at its Wal-Mart Division and 0.9% overall, while rival Target Corp. posted a slightly better 1.3% comp-store gain.

High-flying apparel specialty chains continuted to show stellar same-store sales increases: bebe, 31.2%, American Eagle, 20.0%, Abercrombie & Fitch, 15.0%, and Chico’s FAS, 15.5%. Neiman Marcus paced the luxury department store field with 14.2% comps.

And the wholesale club sector performed well. Coscto comps increased 8.0% and BJ’s Wholeslae comps increased 8.4%.

“The results in April were uneven, but there were clear pockets of strength,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research.

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FINANCE

Whole Foods Net Income Jumps 22% in 2Q

BY CSA STAFF

Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market’s sales increased 20% to $1.1 billion for its second quarter, ended April 10, 2005, driven by same-store sales growth of 11.6% and 13% weighted average year-over-year square footage growth. Net income increased 22% to $42 million, and diluted earnings per share increased 17% to 61?.

“We are very pleased with our performance year to date, particularly in light of our difficult year-to-year comparisons,” said John Mackey, chairman and CEO, Whole Foods Market. “Due to our strong sales growth, we are raising our comparable-store sales guidance for the year to a range of 9% to 11% from 8% to 10%.”

Whole Foods opened two stores in the quarter, in Swampscott, Mass., and New York City, ending the period with 168 stores. The company today opened its third store in Canada and expects to open two additional stores during the third quarter, including one relocation. Currently, Whole Foods has 59 stores in its development pipeline, up 28% from a year ago.

The company also announced that based on new determinations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, it will return to and continue its previous practice of capitalizing rent during the construction period.

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Cache Names CFO

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Upscale women’s apparel retailer Cache Inc. has promoted Margaret Feeney to executive VP and CFO from her former post as VP, finance, effective immediately. Prior to joining Cache in 1992, Feeney held financial posts at Toys “R” Us and Brooks Fashion Stores, a junior specialty chain.

In earnings news, the retailer said its comp-store sales for the four weeks ended April 30 fell 3%. Total sales for April were $24 million, up 3.9% vs. the same period in 2004.

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