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Retail Sales Off Their Mark

The all-important Christmas selling season is getting off to a spotty and uncertain start, with the nation's biggest retailers reporting a mixed bag of same-store sales during November as penny-pinching consumers sought out bargains and turned their backs on full-price and luxury retailers.

At the top of the heap, and holding down all five top spots on the leader board were discounters, off-pricers and warehouse clubs, all appealing to consumers vexed by high gasoline prices and worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter. But lagging behind were higher priced department and specialty stores as shoppers held out for deeper discounts to come.

At the top of the heap, as they have been lately, were two deep-value warehouse operators, Sam's Clubs, whose same-store sales climbed 7.0 percent, improving on a 6.7 percent increase the month before; and Costco, whose comps increased 6.0 percent, coming off an even stronger 10.0 percent gain in October.

But acting as a drag were department store retailers like Federated, down 3.4 percent; tony Saks Fifth Ave., down 2.3 percent; and Bon Ton, down 0.9 percent. Dillard's eked out a slender 1.0 percent gain, while Gottschalks was virtually flat, up 0.5 percent. The few big gainers among department stores were J.C. Penney, still on a roll and rising 3.6 percent; and Saks Department Store Group, up 2.3 percent following the spin-off of some of its underperforming nameplates.

Even some of the biggest nameplates in the business weren't immune to the November blahs. Target reported a relatively stingy gain of 2.6 percent, and Kohl's couldn't quite hold its own, slipping 0.1 percent. Off-pricer TJX was off 1.0 percent; and Stein Mart was off 4.1 percent.

Winners and losers

Winners
Sam's Clubs 7.0%
Costco 6.0
Ross Stores 5.0
Retail Ventures 4.7
Wal-Mart Stores 3.8
Losers
Hancock Fabrics -9.2%
Pamida Stores -8.9
Jo-Ann Stores -6.1
Stein Mart -4.1
Federated -3.4


November sales for key retailers
Four weeks ended Nov. 26a, (dollar amounts in millions)

2005 sales 2004 sales Total %chg. Same-store %chg.
a. Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b. for the 13 weeks year to date.
c. Includes results of May Department Stores
BJ's Wholesale Club $621.8 $590.6 5.3 1.8
The Bon-Ton Stores $141.9 $143.2 (0.9) (0.9)
Costco $4,450.0 $4,080.0 9.1 6.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $561.0 $558.3 0.5 1.0
Dollar General $686.3 $643.5 6.7 (0.2)
Family Dollar $502.1 $457.9 9.7 3.4
Federated c $2,738.0 $1,446.0 89.3 (3.4)
Gottschalks $62.5 $61.4 1.8 0.5
Hancock Fabrics $38.1 $41.2 (7.5) (9.2)
JCPenney $1,856.0 $1,784.0 4.0 NA
Dept. stores $1,565.0 $1,500.0 4.3 3.6
Catalog/e-commerce $291.0 $284.0 2.5 NA
Jo-Ann Stores $190.2 $190.9 (0.4) (6.1)
Kohl's Corp. $1,493.7 $1,346.5 10.9 (0.1)
Pier 1 Imports $177.1 $167.2 5.9 1.9
Retail Ventures $280.5 $258.9 8.3 4.7
Value City Department Stores $145.1 $144.9 0.1 0.8
Ross Stores $451.0 $391.0 15.3 5.0
Saks Inc. $543.6 $635.9 (14.5) 0.1
Saks Fifth Avenue Stores $250.6 $270.6 (7.4) (2.3)
Dept. stores $293.0 $365.3 (19.8) 2.3
ShopKo $260.1 $272.8 (4.7) (3.9)
ShopKo stores $194.6 NA (3.1) (2.1)
Pamida $65.5 NA (9.0) (8.9)
Stein Mart $135.4 $140.3 (3.6) (4.1)
Target Corp. $4,583.0 $4,203.0 9.1 2.6
TJX Cos. $1,500.0 $1,400.0 5.0 (1.0)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $25,768.0 $23,544.0 9.4 4.3
Wal-Mart Stores $17,384.0 $15,793.0 10.5 3.8
Sam's Club $3,247.0 $2,993.0 6.8 7.0
YTD sales for major retailers
43 weeks year-to-date a
BJ's Wholesale Club $6,294.6 $5,799.8 8.5 4.0
The Bon-Ton Stores $964.5 $990.3 (2.6) (2.4)
Costco b $13,850.0 $12,400.0 11.7 9.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $5,781.8 $5,782.9 0.0 0.0
Dollar General $6,800.0 $6,100.0 11.2 3.1
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated c $15,787.0 $12,102.0 30.5 0.8
Gottschalks $509.6 $501.6 1.6 0.6
Hancock Fabrics $323.1 $346.0 (6.6) (7.3)
JCPenney $14,434.0 $13,909.0 3.8 NA
JCPenney stores $12,210.0 $11,758.0 3.8 3.1
Catalog/e-commerce $2,224.0 $2,151.0 3.3 NA
Jo-Ann Stores $1,469.0 $1,415.0 3.8 (0.6)
Kohl's Corp. $10,243.9 $8,968.4 14.2 3.4
Pier 1 Imports $1,320.5 $1,372.0 3.8 8.7
Retail Ventures $2,373.4 $2,236.6 6.1 0.2
Value City Department Stores $1,099.4 $1,150.7 (4.5) (3.9)
Ross Stores $3,983.0 $3,419.0 16.5 6.0
Saks Inc. $4,696.7 $4,976.9 (5.6) 2.0
Saks Fifth Avenue Stores $2,163.5 $2,148.3 0.7 4.2
Dept. stores $2,533.2 $2,828.6 (10.4) 0.1
ShopKo $2,405.2 NA (4.9) (5.2)
ShopKo stores $1,767.9 NA (5.7) (5.8)
Pamida $637.3 NA (2.6) (3.5)
Stein Mart $1,189.6 $1,156.0 2.9 1.5
Target Corp. $39,285.0 NA 12.2 5.8
TJX Cos. $12,800.0 $12,000.0 7.0 1.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $249,462.0 $226,589.0 10.1 3.7
Wal-Mart stores $166,941.0 $151,712.0 10.0 3.4
Sam's Clubs $32,334.0 $30,045.0 7.6 6.5


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