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Specialty retailers post gains

BY CSA STAFF

New York City Many specialty retailers posted higher December sales and raised profit forecasts as they carefully managed promotions to attract holiday shoppers.

Aeropostale, Zumiez, and Limited Brands were among the chains that raised their quarterly earnings outlooks. The moves suggested promotions were “relatively tame compared with last year and that retailers were able to hold onto margins,” said Ken Perkins, president, Retail Metrics, in a Reuters report.

Aeropostale, a strong performer during the downturn, said its December store-sales rose 10%. On average, analysts had expected an increase of just 3.1%. Total net sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2 rose 17% to $460.8 million.

American Eagle Outfitters said its same-store sales rose a better-than-expected 7% in December, and the company improved margins as it stuck to stronger pricing. Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2 rose 9% to $538.9 million.

Analysts had forecast a gain of just 2.3%, according to Thomson Reuters.

Not all retailers reported gains in December. Abercrombie & Fitch, which has struggled throughout the recession, said its same-store sales dropped 19% in December, worse than analysts had expected. Net sales for the five-week period ended Jan. 2, were down $482.5 million an 11% decrease.

Hot Topic, which reported a deeper-than-expected 10.9% decline, and lowered its quarterly earnings outlook as a result.

In other December sales results:

Gap said same-store sales rose 2%, with the strongest results at its lower-priced Old Navy chain. Its results were slightly below expectations. Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2 rose 5% to $2.02 billion from $1.93 billion last year.

Sales in stores open at least one year rose 1% at Gap stores, fell 3% at Banana Republic and rose 7% at Old Navy. Internationally, same-store sales fell 1%.

  • Limited Brands’ sales fell 2%, steeper than analysts had expected. But the company said its sales so far in the fourth quarter are better than it initially expected and raised its guidance.

Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2 rose nearly 1% to $1.66 billion from $1.64 billion a year ago.

Children’s Place Retail Stores said a surge in online sales and improved results at its domestic stores helped lift its same-store sales by 4%. Analysts had predicted a 4.8% decline. Total sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2 grew 10%  to $224.4 million.

The retailer said online sales jumped 54% in December.

Urban Outfitters’ same-store sales rose 5%, with its Anthropologie and Free People locations doing better than its name-brand stores. Total sales in November and December rose 16% to $452 million.

By division, holiday sales at Anthropologie stores rose 10%, compared with 8% at Free People locations and 1% at Urban Outfitters stores, the company said.

  • Zumiez posted a 0.3% increase in same-store sales. Analysts had forecast a 6.4% decline.
  • At Wet Seal, same-store sales  fell 4.6%, better than the 5.6% decline analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters predicted.
  • Cato Corp.’s same-store sales were up 7%. The company reported sales for the five weeks ended Jan. 2, of $104.1 million, an 8% increase over last year.
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Dollar General names former CVS exec to board

BY CSA STAFF

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. Dollar General David Rickard to its board of directors.

Rickard served as EVP, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of CVS Caremark Corporation and CVS Pharmacy from September 1999 until December 2009. Prior to joining CVS Caremark, Rickard was the SVP and chief financial officer of RJR Nabisco Holdings Corporation from 1997 to 1999.

“We are pleased to welcome such a retail veteran to our board,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “Dave’s years of experience and diverse retail industry background will be an asset to the Dollar General board. We are certain that his expertise will serve Dollar General well as we work to move the company forward.”

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TWE reports December comps decline

BY CSA STAFF

ALBANY, N.Y. Trans World Entertainment reported a comparable-store sales decrease of 5% for the five-week period ended Jan. 2.

For the nine-week period ended Jan.2, comparable-store sales decreased 8%.  Total sales for the nine-week period were $241 million compared with $287 million for the same period last year, a decrease of 16%.  

For the eleven-month period ended Jan. 2, comparable-store sales decreased 10%. Total sales for the period decreased 18% to $760 million compared with $930 million during the same period last year.

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