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Macy’s, Kohl’s report strong September showings, J.C. Penney flounders

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Macy’s saw same-store sales rise 4.9% in September, beating Wall Street’s expected 4.4% increase, and total sales surged 5.3% to $2.298 billion in the five-week period.

“We continued to see a strong sales trend in September at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s,” said Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s. “Our sales performed well both in stores and online. This underscores that our business remains on track, despite the persistently negative macroeconomic news.”

Lundgren said the chain is confident it will continue to gain market share as it heads toward the holiday selling season. The chain said its third-quarter outlook is expected to be on the high-end of previous projections for a 4% to 4.5% increase.

J.C. Penney, however, turned in a much weaker performance, reporting a 0.6% dip in same-store sales, compared to a 5.1% increase last year. A 0.6% gain was expected in September and the retailer said it now expects flat same-store sales for the quarter rather than the previously projected 2% to 3% gain. Total sales decreased 3.6% in September.

Kohl’s Corp. handily beat projections, reporting a same-store sales increase of 4.1%. A 2.2% increase was expected. The department store retailer received a boost from its Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony line introductions in September, which “generated excited,” said CEO Kevin Mansell.

Nordstrom also shone in September, posting a 10.7% same-store sales rise that beat expectations of a 5.2% increase. The luxury retailer was boosted by strong showings in dresses, handbags and designer merchandise.

Saks, too, represented the luxury category well, recording a 9.3% rise when 6.5% was projected.

In other department store same-store sales news:

  • Dillard’s same-store sales rose 4%.
  • Bon-Ton decreased 3.6%.

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Retail sales solid in September

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — Despite ongoing concerns about the economy, retailers fared surprisingly well in September, helped by the tail end of back-to-school shopping and cooler temperatures.

Overall, Thomson Reuters, which tracks same-store sales for a group of 23 national chains, said the group was expected to post a 4.6% increase in same-store sales for September. Retailers surpassed expectations, with a 5.1% rise led by strong performances from Target, Limited Brands, Zumiez and Costco Wholesale, among others. Walgreens, however, disappointed with a 3.1% rise in same-store sales, missing analysts’ expectations.

Still, the U.S. consumer in September "showed resilience in spite of all the troubling economic news," Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, told Reuters.

September is particularly important in the apparel category, as it picks up the final portion of the back-to-school shopping period – the second-largest retail spending season behind the holiday period of November and December.

In the apparel sector, Zumiez shone with a 10.1% increase in same-store sales in September, beating Wall Street estimates of a 3.2% rise and raising its third-quarter outlook. Gap, however, reported a 4% dip in September same-store sales, on flat revenue of $1.35 billion. Results were in line with Wall Street expectations, but the retailer has pledged to improve. “While there were some bright spots across our brands and business units, we’re clear and focused on the steps necessary to improve our business performance going forward,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap.

Limited Brands turned in a strong performance in September, with same-store sales up 11% on the strength of its Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works brands. Results solidly beat Wall Street’s expected 4.6% rise.

In other apparel same-store results for September:

  • The Buckle outdid estimates, with a 10.3% increase. Wall Street expected a 3.8% rise.
  • Wet Seal same-store sales dipped .3%, widely missing analysts’ expected 3.8% rise.
  • Cato September same-store sales dropped 3%.

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JCPenney last in race with Macy’s, Kohl’s

BY CSA STAFF

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. PLANO, Texas and CINCINNATI – While Kohl’s and Macy’s posted September sales growth, JCPenney had to scale its outlook back after a weaker than expected month.

Kohl’s reported that sales for September increased 5.8% and comparable-store sales increased 4.1% over the same period last year.

Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, commented, “We are pleased to report significant improvement in our September sales results. As expected, the Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony launches – the largest launches in our history – and the opening of 31 new stores, generated excitement which resulted in improved customer traffic.”

Kohl’s opened 31 new stores in fiscal September and now operates 1,127 stores in 49 states, compared to 1,089 stores at the same time last year.

Because of the expected impact of lease accounting through the remainder of fiscal 2011, Kohl’s has lowered it third quarter earnings guidance to a range of 73 cents to 79 cents per diluted share from its previous guidance of 76 cents to 82 cents per diluted share. Fiscal 2011 earnings are now expected to be $4.34 to $4.49 per diluted share versus the previous guidance of $4.45 to $4.60 per diluted share.

Macy’s reported a September sales increase of 5.3% and a same-store sales increase of 4.9%.

"We continued to see a strong sales trend in September at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Our sales performed well both in stores and online. This underscores that our business remains on track, despite the persistently negative macroeconomic news," said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s Inc. "Our customers are responding to fashion and uniqueness in the assortment at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. We are feeling quite confident that we will continue to gain market share as we head toward the holiday selling season."

Macy’s said it currently expects the increase in its third quarter same-store sales to be on the high end of previously provided guidance of 4% to 4.5%, and reiterated expectations for fourth quarter same-store sales to be in the range of 4% to 4.5%.

JCPenney reported that total sales for September were down 3.6% and comparable-store sales were down 0.6%. The company posted a 5.1% comps increase for the September 2010 period.

Sales were softer than the company expected, although JCPenney said that children’s apparel and women’s accessories performed well.

Because of weaker than expected sales in the first two months of the quarter, JCPenney said it now expects comparable-store sales for the third quarter to be flat and earnings per share to be in the range of 10 cents to 15 cents.

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