J.C. Penney Q4 same-store sales up 2% in first quarterly gain since 2011
Dallas — J.C. Penney Company on Tuesday said its same-store sales rose 2% in the fourth quarter, which included the holiday season. It was the chain’s first positive quarterly sales result since 2011.
"While 2013 brought a lot of change and challenges to J.C. Penney, the steady improvements in our business show that the company’s turnaround is on track. In spite of the significant headwinds facing all retailers this season, including unprecedented harsh weather conditions in many parts of the country, we delivered on our promise to generate positive comparable store sales growth in the fourth quarter," said Penney CEO Myron E. (Mike) Ullman.
Penney said its same-store sales increased 3.1% in the nine weeks through November and December. The retailer cited solid performances in beauty (Sephora), activewear, sweaters, outerwear, dresses, boots, men’s clothing, luggage and housewares.
“As we look ahead to 2014, our associates are encouraged by the company’s results and we remain steadfast in our focus to build on these achievements and return to profitable growth," Ullman said.
The chain said it closed its 2013 fiscal year with total available liquidity in excess of $2 billion.
Online sales fuel Sport Chalet in third quarter
Sport Chalet’s digital strategy paid off in the third quarter ended Dec. 29, which saw online sales surge 22% from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
The company reported net income for the quarter of $1.5 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $1.9 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, in the third quarter of last year.
Sales decreased 2.4% to $95.3 million from $97.6 million in the same period last year. The company said the sales decrease was fueled by the closure of three underperforming stores, which contributed $2.4 million in the same period of the prior year. The sales decrease was also due to an 11.9% sales decrease in the team sales division due to changes in personnel, and a decrease in comparable store sales. These declines were partially offset by the contribution of one new store opened at the end of the first fiscal quarter of 2014 and an increase in online sales, including mobile.
Comparable store sales decreased 1.3% for the quarter, compared to the same period last year, reflecting an overall soft holiday sales environment that began on a strong note but weakened during the final selling weeks of the year, partially due to a lack of winter weather across the company’s markets.
Online sales for the third quarter increased 8.9%, compared to the same period last year, with 47.5% of sales originating outside the four states where Sport Chalet has stores. For the period from Thanksgiving through Christmas, online and mobile sales increased 22% and 296%, respectively, from last year.
"Sales for the quarter began on an upswing in October and November, followed by a strong start to the holiday selling season as evidenced by our Black Friday Weekend and Cyber Monday sales," said chairman and CEO Craig Levra. "Despite the strong start, winter weather did not materialize in our core Western markets and continues to present a challenge to our business. That said, I am proud of our team of experts for executing against a well-defined strategy to help mitigate poor winter conditions, and thus we were able to report our most profitable quarter in the past seven years.”
Levra added that he is pleased the performance of the next-generation store in downtown Los Angeles as well as its growing online and mobile business.
“This speaks to the growing popularity of the Sport Chalet brand, our online marketing initiatives and our ability to fuse in-store engagement with online and mobile tools for every customer we serve. Mobile also contributed to our online success as sales increased 180%, albeit off a small base, spurred by the launch of a new mobile platform the week before Thanksgiving," he added.
Five Below enters Tennessee
As part of its 2014 expansion plans, teen and tween retailer Five Below has its eye set on the Tennessee market and will be opening five new stores there by spring.
"After successfully opening 60 net new stores in 2013, including entering the new markets of Austin and Dallas, we are excited to begin our 2014 store opening program with this expansion into the Tennessee market," said co-founder and CEO Tom Vellios. "We see significant opportunities to continue to expand our reach in new and existing markets with our class of 2014 stores, drawing new customers to our concept while providing the brand name and trend-right merchandise that our loyal customers have come to expect from Five Below."
Five Below’s 600,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., which opened in spring 2013 and currently supports the company’s southern and Midwestern stores, will service Tennessee. With this new market, Five Below will operate stores in 20 states. The company will provide further details on its 2014 store growth plans when it releases its fiscal 2013 fourth quarter earnings results in March 2014.