FINANCE

November Comps Grow 3.5%

BY CSA STAFF

New York City, Black Friday launched a shopping frenzy across the country and helped lift November same-store sales to a 3.5% year-over-year increase, according to the tally by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). But some analysts see a promotional aspect to November’s gains. “The strength was largely driven by promotions and did not provide as strong of a start to the holiday season as some retailers would have liked,” said Michael Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. That makes December sales even more critical than usual, he said. Unlike last year, Wal-Mart Stores got a jump on the holiday season—its 4.3% gain outpaced rival Target Corp. for the first time this year. At the mall, Federated suffered a comp-store sales decline of 3.4%, its worst sales performance since March 2003. The ICSC predicts December comps will post another modest 3.5% gain.

In terms of comp-store sales, some of the big winners for the month of November include:

• Abercrombie & Fitch posted a gain of 23.0%.

• Gymboree posted a gain of 22.0%.

• American Eagle posted a gain of 17.3%.

• Wet Seal posted a gain of 51.5%.

• Chico’s FAS posted a gain of 11.8%.

Some of the comp-store decliners for the month include:

• Gap Inc. posted a comp-store sales decline of 4.0%.

• Bombay Co. posted a comps decline of 12.4%.

• Sharper Image posted a comp-store decline of 18.0%

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Factory Card CFO Departs

BY CSA STAFF

Naperville, Ill., Factory Card & Party Outlet Corp. said its executive VP, CFO and chief administrative officer James D. Constantine is leaving the company to pursue other interests.

The retailer also announced the promotion of controller Jarett A. Misch to VP, controller and chief accounting officer, and the promotion of treasurer Timothy J. Benson to VP and treasurer.

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Casual Corner to Close All 525 Stores

BY CSA STAFF

Enfield, Conn., Casual Corner Group will close or sell all 525 of its stores in 42 states and Puerto Rico. The Casual Corner, Casual Corner Annex and Petite Sophisticate stores will begin closing sales on Friday, the company said in a news release. “However, we continue to examine the long-term strategic options for the Casual Corner Group stores, including the search for investors interested in continuing the Casual Corner/Petite Sophisticate brands and operations,” said Malcolm Sherman, the company’s chief executive officer. The company was founded in 1950 in West Hartford, Conn.

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