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Macy’s Stops Reporting Monthly Results

BY CSA STAFF

New York Macy’s Inc. has joined the ranks of retailers that have stopped disclosing monthly results. Effective 2008, the company said it has decided to no longer report sales on a monthly basis in addition to its previously announced decision not to provide quarterly earnings guidance.

Other chains that previously eliminated disclosing monthly results include Sears Holdings Corp., Home Depot Inc. and Dollar General Corp. The monthly reports have lost some significance as an economic indicator over time. Analysts have noted that monthly results do not include two major, and relatively new, retail forces: online sales and gift cards. Timing of holidays on the calendar can also skew monthly sales figures, making it harder to catch a meaningful trend.

But for investors, the monthly numbers provide a timely peek at sales trends that is even more important with the economy shaky. Macy’s decision to withhold its monthly sales only underscores the increasingly difficult environment for U.S. retailers, many of which have seen their shares tumble in recent months. Two other retailers, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. and CVS Caremark Corp., abandoned reporting monthly sales as of January.

Fewer than 50 retailers now report monthly results, down from 70 three years ago, according to TNS Retail Forward, Columbus, Ohio.

“Increasingly, the thought is that reporting monthly sales results makes retailers susceptible to managing on a month-to-month basis,” said Frank Badillo, senior retail economist at Retail Forward.

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BJ’s beats 4Q EPS guidance

BY CSA STAFF

NATICK, Mass. BJ’s Wholesale Club today reported fourth quarter net income of $50.2 million, or 80 cents per diluted share, exceeding its guidance which called for earnings per share of 70 cents to 74 cents. The favorable net income results were due primarily to strong January sales, favorable merchandise margin rates, strong gasoline profitability and expenses coming in slightly lower than projected, the company reported.

For the fourth quarter of 2006, the company reported net income of $11.9 million, or 18 cents per diluted share.

For the full year 2007, net income was $122.9 million, or $1.90 per diluted share.

For the full year 2006, net income was $72 million, or $1.08 per diluted share.

Net sales for the fourth quarter of 2007, which included 13 weeks of sales versus 14 weeks of sales in 2006, rose by 1.9% to $2.4 billion. Comparable-club sales for the fourth quarter, based on 13 weeks of sales in both years, increased by 5.4%, including a favorable impact from sales of gasoline of 2.4%, and a negative impact from the absence of pharmacy sales of 0.4%. On a comparable-club basis, merchandise sales excluding gas and pharmacy increased by 3.4%.

Net sales for 2007, which included 52 weeks versus 53 weeks in 2006, increased by 6.2% to $8.8 billion. Comparable-club sales for 2007, which included 52 weeks in both years, increased by 3.7%, including a favorable impact from sales of gasoline of 1.1%, and a negative impact from the absence of pharmacy sales of 0.4%. On a comparable-club basis, merchandise sales excluding gas and pharmacy increased by 3%.

BJ’s also reported its results for the month of February. Sales for the month increased by 9% to $655.7 million from $601.8 million in February 2007. On a comparable-club basis, sales increased by 5.9% for the month of February, including a contribution from sales of gasoline of 2.7%. For February 2007, the company reported a comparable-club sales increase of 3%, including a positive impact from gasoline sales of 0.9% and a negative impact from the absence of pharmacy sales of 0.4%.

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Study: Consumers pushed to lower-price stores

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK The weak economic conditions have taken their toll on U.S. consumers, and for the first time in more than 10 years, low prices is the main factor in determining what and where they shop. According to a survey by AlixPartners, a consulting firm, of more than 7,400 consumers, shoppers today especially keep low cost in mind when making purchasing decisions.

“In the ten years that I’ve administered surveys like this, consumers have always said that while absolute price is important, at the end of the day they were usually willing to pay a little more in order to get such things as service or a good overall experience,” said Fred Crawford, a managing director with AlixPartners. “However, this year, it’s a whole new ballgame. This year, consumers are saying it’s all about price, price and price. Clearly, 2008 will be ‘the year of value’ in U.S. retailing, and that’s going to have a dramatic impact on retailers of all stripes. This year is going to be batten-down-the-hatches time in retail.”

The survey found that pricing was important to consumers at all income levels, and all were likely to shift “one level down” in terms of the type of stores they shop, with aspirational high-end retail shoppers shifting down to department stores, department store shoppers dipping down into mass-market stores and so on.

“Consumers who were shopping at Nordstrom’s and Macy’s are now looking at JCPenney or Kohl’s,” said Crawford, “and those who were shopping at JC Penney are now at Wal-Mart, while some of those who were at Wal-Mart are now at dollar stores. You’re going to see a lot more Lexuses and BMWs in Wal-Mart parking lots going forward.”

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