FINANCE

Wet Seal net sales drop in Q3

BY Dan Berthiaume

Foothill Ranch, Calif. – The Wet Seal reported net sales of $127.7 million during the third quarter of fiscal 2013, down 5.8% from the same quarter in the prior year. In a partial release of third quarter figures, the company also reported a 0.8% increase in same-store sales.

E-commerce sales, which are not a component of same-store sales, declined approximately 19% for the quarter. Through more disciplined management of promotional pricing, the company generated an improved e-commerce merchandise margin rate compared to the same quarter of last year. However, Wet Seal said the focus on transitioning to a new Demandware e-commerce platform during the quarter impacted sales results. The re-platform was completed in late October and is now enabling customers to execute transactions more efficiently from their mobile devices.

“We were able to deliver positive comp store sales and significantly improved merchandise margins versus a year ago despite the extremely tough retail environment,” stated John D. Goodman, CEO. “As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, we are maintaining an appropriate mix of regular and promotional pricing and remaining sharply focused on inventory management. At quarter-end, inventory dollars per square foot were down approximately 3% compared to the prior year at Wet Seal and approximately 20% versus the prior year at Arden B. We are also continuing to exercise strict control over costs, resulting in a decrease in SG&A expenses versus the prior year period.”

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OPERATIONS

Ikea plans to double solar array on Maryland DC

BY Dan Berthiaume

Conshocken, Pa. – Ikea plans to nearly double the solar array completed in April atop its Perryville, Md., distribution center, the state’s largest such solar energy system. Installation of the new panels will begin in November with completion expected in 2014.

The 467,618-sq.-ft. solar addition will consist of a 2.2-MW system, built with 7,337 modules, and will produce 2,695,355 kWh of electricity annually for the facility. Including the existing system, this 1.7 million-sq.-ft. distribution center’s total 4.9-MW solar installation of 25,913 panels soon will generate 6,092,533 kWh of clean electricity yearly, the equivalent of reducing 4,299 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to EPA estimates.

For the development, design and installation of the Perryville distribution center’s current and expanded solar power system, Ikea contracted with Inovateus Solar LLC, an industry-leading solar power distributor and integrator specializing in large-scale solar installations.

Ikea owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems, as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement), and globally has allocated $1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2015. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, Ikea has installed more than 300,000 solar panels on buildings across the world.

“We are pleased at the opportunity to nearly double the solar energy generated by this facility,” said Steffen Daab, distribution center manager. “This is another example of our commitment to create a more sustainable life for communities where we operate.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Analysis: Social holiday buzz grows

BY Dan Berthiaume

Los Angeles — Earlier in October, shoppers were put off by holiday displays in store; now people are warming up to them. Analysis of social media buzz for the week of Oct. 30 – Nov. 5 by social media research firm Fizziology shows that positive conversation about displays rose from 15% to 22%, while negatives dropped from 76% to 42%.

It seems that Halloween was the cutoff point of when people found it acceptable, as 12% said stores should wait until after Halloween, and 8% said wait until after Thanksgiving. This social conversation surrounding holiday displays rose substantially since late October (251% week over week). Volume shot up on Oct. 31 due to people talking about the juxtaposition between Halloween products and Christmas decorations in some stores. It has remained high since then. Instead of people being angry about early decor, some are asking if it’s OK for them to put up their personal decorations as well.

Conversation surrounding holiday/Christmas shopping continued to trend upward gradually week over week (a 109% increase, up to 291k mentions this past week). While the week of Oct. 23, only 24% of buzz was from consumers (rather than news outlets, stores and promotional material); however, the following week that percentage rose to 40% as people made it clear they’re starting to prepare. Leading neutral chatter was many small businesses (especially via Etsy) that were starting to promote products and gift ideas via Twitter.

The percentage of people in the middle of shopping rose from 16% to 29% of organic mentions. Only 2% of feeds came from people announcing that they were done shopping for gifts. Eleven percent of shopper mentions came from people offering gift ideas, while 5% revolved around DIY (down from 8% last week). People sharing what they want for Christmas broke through in 11% of organic shopping conversation, and some were buying for themselves.


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