Retailers Report Sluggish Sales in March
New York Most retailers reported sluggish sales in March when consumers limited their shopping to food and other essentials amid the slowing economy. The earliest Easter in 95 years and chilly weather also put a damper on sales.
Shoppers remained focused on buying basics at discounters and wholesale clubs and snubbed mall-based chains for clothing and other discretionary purchases, according to the Associated Press.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was among the best performers, reporting a 0.7% gain in same-store sales. Wal-Mart said that food and consumables, and electronics such as video games and digital cameras sold well. But cold weather hurt apparel, except for basic items. Home furnishings continued to be weak.
Target’s March same-store sales fell 4.4%, more than analysts expected. Lower traffic due to the loss of one day of sales on Easter hurt results, according to Target.
Another bright spot amid the dreary results were warehouse club operators Costco Wholesale Corp. and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Their March sales were stronger than expected.
Many other retailers reported sales declines that were larger than expected, including Limited Brands, Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. and Wet Seal Inc.
Abercrombie & Fitch said its same-store sales fell a greater-than-expected 10% in March, citing the early Easter. Gap’s same-store sales plunged 18% in March, hurt by weak sales in its Old Navy women’s clothes and lower promotions at its namesake brand.
Limited Brands reported an 8% drop in sales, larger than the 7.2% decline that analysts had expected.
Among department stores, Saks Inc. said Thursday its same-store sales fell 2.9% in March, missing Wall Street analysts’ prediction that comparable sales would rise for the month. J.C. Penney posted a larger-than-expected 12.3% sales decline. The retailer had warned late last month that same-store sales would be down at least 10% amid a souring economy.
Kohl’s Corp. said Thursday its same-store sales fell 15.5% in March and cut its first-quarter profit guidance.
Time Warner Cable to sell services at Wal-Mart
NEW YORK Time Warner Cable is now offering its cable, broadband internet access and digital phone service in nearly 700 Wal-Mart locations. Customers can sign up for services with the help of a Wal-Mart electronics associate, guiding them on selecting packages of their choice through easily accessible in-store kiosks at the Wal-Mart “Connection Center.”
Time Warner Cable ceo Glenn Britt said: “Today’s consumer is looking for value and convenience. We know that they want to watch what they want, when they want, and many want it in high definition. They want fast, reliable internet access and they want unlimited calling plans. This partnership with Wal-Mart provides customers better access to their entertainment and communications needs with just one stop, making our customers’ lives even easier.”
Circuit City 4Q earnings up, sales down
RICHMOND, Va. Circuit City Stores reported net earnings of $4.5 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, for its fourth quarter ended Feb. 29 compared to a net loss of $7.2 million, or 4 cents per diluted share for the same period last year.
The company reported that net sales for the quarter decreased 7.7% to $3.65 billion from $3.95 billion in the prior year, with consolidated comparable-store sales decreasing 10.4%.
“While the financial results to date clearly do not reflect the expected benefits of our initiatives, we firmly believe the company has the right strategy, the right focus, the right management team and sufficient resources, including expected cash flows and borrowing capacity, to complete our turnaround plan and create long-term sustainable shareholder value,” said Philip Schoonover, chairman, president and ceo of Circuit City Stores.