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Warmer weather boasts sales in May

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Costco Wholesale Corp. was among the retailers who topped sales expectations in May as warmer weather encouraged consumers to go out and shop.

Costco’s same-store sales rose 6% in May, with a 6% rise in U.S. sales and a 4% increase in international sales, better than analysts had expected.

At L Brands, owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, same-store sales were up 3 in May, better than projections. Total revenue for the month rose 4% to $763.6 million.

Gap Inc. said it same-store sales increased 4% in May. Net sales for the four-week period ended May 31, 2014 were $1.27 billion compared with net sales of $1.22 billion in the year-ago period.

“We delivered a positive comp to start the second quarter, building on last May’s strong performance,” said Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO, Gap Inc.

In other same-store sales results for May:

• Cato Corp.’s same-store sales increased 3%.

• Zumiez Inc. enjoyed a 3.6% increase.

• The Buckle had a 3.1% drop in comparable-store sales for May.

• Stein Mart’s same-store sales rose 0.4%. The company opened two stores, in Aventura, Florida, and Falls Church, Virginia, as part of a plan to open 10 new stores and complete six relocations in its current fiscal year.

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Stein Mart stays positive in May

BY CSA STAFF

Persistent winter weather took a bite out of Stein Mart’s net income in the first quarter, but the retailer rallied once the weather improved. It closed the quarter with total and comparable-store sales increases, and the upward trend has continued through May.

The company reported total sales for the four-week period ended May 31 of $109.6 million, a 2.2% increase over total sales of $107.3 million for the four-week period ended June 1 last year. Comparable store sales for the month increased 0.4% from comparable store sales for the same month last year.

For the 17-week period ended May 31, the retailer reported total sales of $438.5 million compared to total sales of $428.7 million for the same period last year. Comparable store sales increased 2% from comparable store sales for the 17-week period last year.

The company operated 265 stores at the end of May this year compared to 262 stores last year. The company opened a store in Aventura, Fla., and Falls Church, Va., as part of its store expansion plan that includes a total of 10 new stores and 6 relocations.

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Top 10 Most Innovative Retail Companies

BY Marianne Wilson

From the 156-year-old Macy’s to the online startup Zady, Fast Company’s annual ranking of “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Retail” shows how diverse the retail landscape had become — and the changing nature of retail innovation.

Here’s a quick recap (I’ve added some comments following Fast Company’s qualifiers):

1. WARBY PARKER: For being the Warby Parker of Warby Parkers.
The hip eyewear maker wrote the book on how an online retailer can translate digital success to the physical space. Its stores combine the ease of online ordering with the fun and serendipity of real-life shopping — with a photo booth for fun.

2. AMAZON: For leaving its competitors in the dust.
What else is there to say?

3. THE LEGASPI COMPANY: For rebuilding malls to meet cultural needs.
A full-service retail real estate firm focused on the nation’s fast-growing Hispanic market, Legaspi has given new life failing properties by focusing them specifically to meet the needs of Hispanic customers. With year-round entertainment, celebrations of Hispanic holidays and a mix of stores and services, the revitalized malls are as much community and cultural centers as shopping centers.

4. J.CREW: For meticulously cultivating its brand to become the world’s iconic American clothier.
Not sure J. Crew deserves the “iconic American clothier” moniker — to me, Ralph Lauren is still the standard. But there is no denying that the dynamic due of CEO Mickey Drexler and president and creative director Jenna Lyons have made J. Crew a retail powerhouse.

5. WALMART: For deploying smart mobile solutions to aid its customers.
The retail giant has made giant leaps in its digital strategy. Most recently, it expanded its online price comparison tool that.

6. EBAY: For expanding its business model to become retailers’ best friend.

7. BURBERRY: For upholding its legacy of impeccable design while catering to the digital millennial.
The luxury retailer continues to set the pace for combining digital innovation in brick-and-mortar stores. Its new flagship, in Shanghai, dazzles.

8. ZADY: For selling radical transparency as the new black.
The online retail startup specializes in small brands and indie designers — and conscious capitalism. It lets shoppers where in the world their goods are made, and also provides background information on who made them. Zady’s site maps each product geographically, dropping a pin on the brand’s headquarters and then extending lines to the source material and manufacturing locations. All of the merchandise is ethically sourced and manufactured.

9. FARFETCH: For creating a one-stop shop for browsing high-end boutiques around the globe.
The London-based fashion site describes itself as the “hub of a global fashion community that unites independent boutiques around the world with fashion lovers.” It received $20 million in funding last year from Condé Nast International, the media giant’s largest e-commerce investment ever.

10. MACY'S: For mainstreaming the notion of everywhere retail.
Founded in 1858, Macy’s has, over the better part of the past 18 months, transformed itself into a nimble and flexible omnichannel retail giant. No other traditional retailer has done a better job of combining its physical, virtual and brand assets.

For Fast Company’s complete Top 10 ranking, click here.


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