FINANCE

NRF: Spending tepid in July

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. Retail industry sales for July (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 3.1% unadjusted year-over-year and also declined 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, according to the National Retail Federation.

July retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased  0.4% seasonally adjusted from the previous month and increased 5.4% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Household spending remains tepid amid concerns about economic stability,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Current data on the economy is mixed which signals that retailers will continue planning with caution until a long-term trend can be established.”

Back-to-school related categories saw strong year-over-year gains. Clothing and accessories stores were up a solid 4.7% over last July, while declining 0.7% from June.

Electronics and appliance stores also showed strong year-over-year gains, increasing 8.1% and declining 0.1% from last month. Furniture and home furnishing stores ticked up 0.4% from the same period a year ago and declined 0.3% from the prior month. (All monthly sales are listed as seasonally adjusted, while year-over-year sales are listed as seasonally unadjusted.)

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Michaels comps down for the quarter

BY CSA STAFF

IRVING, Texas Michaels Stores reported that total sales for the quarter were $847 million, a 1% increase from fiscal 2007 first quarter sales of $839 million. Same-store sales for the comparable 13-week period decreased 2.9%.

Ceo, Brian Cornell, said, “While our overall comps for the first quarter declined 2.9%, we were very encouraged with the sales of our kids and specialty craft categories, scrapbooking and frame and art supplies. Sales in April showed a reversal of trend with same-store sales up 3.1% on a strong increase in transactions. This positive sales and transaction performance gives us confidence that our new marketing and merchandising programs are connecting with our Michaels customers.”

For fiscal 2008, the company expects same-store sales growth  to be approximately flat given the current economic environment.

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Kirkland’s 1Q sales up 2.1%

BY CSA STAFF

JACKSON, Tenn. Kirkland’s reported that net sales for the first quarter ended May 3 increased 2.1% to $84.1 million from $82.3 million for the first quarter ended May 5, 2007. Comparable-store sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 increased 4.3% compared with an 18.8% comparable-stores sales decrease in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.

The company reported a net loss of $2.6 million, or 13 cents per diluted share, for the 13-week period ended May 3, 2008, compared with a net loss of $7.5 million, or 38 cents per diluted share, in the 13-week period ended May 5, 2007.

Robert Alderson, Kirkland’s president and ceo, said, “The first quarter results reflect strong merchandising execution and the benefits of aggressive financial initiatives that have reduced our operating costs, improved cash flow and strengthened our liquidity. During the quarter, we experienced improved customer conversions as shoppers have reacted very favorably to our merchandise mix. The positive comparable-store sales and trimming of unproductive stores led to leveraging of occupancy and distribution costs. Combined with an improvement in merchandise margin and a year-over-year reduction in operating costs of almost $5 million, we were able to post a significant improvement in our pre-tax results.

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