• Cecile Corral

November a Winning Month for Key Retailers

NEW YORK - With the exception of Stein Mart, which posted flat comps for the period, November proved a solid month in same-store sales for all key retailers.
     Heading the pack of 13 major chains tracked monthly by HTT was Plano, Texas-based JCPenney with 9.2% in comp increases. But equally noteworthy was the department store that took second place - Little Rock, Ark.-based Dillard's, with an 8.0% gain, reversing its long streak of soft comp results.
     JCP's strong performance was sparked by its "biggest Black Friday sales event" in the 1,100- plus unit chain's history. Topselling items on Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday included fashion boots, the St. John's Baybranded cashmere-blend pea coat, and Liz Claiborne sportswear for women, as well as St. John's Bay polos and Stafford flannel sleep pants for men.
     "Customers also chose to shop for holiday gift items through jcp.com, as traffic and conversion on the company's ecommerce site were well-ahead of last year throughout the holiday weekend," JCP noted.
     "Customers are responding very well to our gift assortments as well as taking advantage of our great promotions in order to buy for themselves," added Mike Ullman, chairman and ceo.
     Dillard's strong results got no help from the home department, which along with furniture and cosmetics was "significantly below trend," the company said.
Johnson Redbook     Another newcomer to the comp-gain list was Abilene, Kan.-based Duckwall-Alco. The 214-unit regional discounter attributed 5.8% comp increase to the revamping effort in its stores and expanded assortments of consumables over the past several months.
     "We are encouraged by the Alco stores' 6.3% same-store sales increase in November, including a robust improvement for Thanksgiving week compared to 2009," said Rich Wilson, president and ceo.
     Domestics was among the strongest performing categories at Duckwall-Alco in November.
     "November marks the second complete month of our new Alco store layouts and merchandise selections, plus the integration of our partnership with Associated Wholesale Grocers to offer the ‘Best Choice' and ‘Always Save' brands," Wilson continued. "Our core customer is responding positively to Alco's improved value proposition and customer experience."
     Even though it was the lowest comp gain on the key-retailer list for November, the 2.9% increase at York, Pa.-based The Bon-Ton Stores was a boon for the regional department store, which has been struggling with the soft economy lately.

Same-store sales % change 




Dillard's Inc.


Coscto Wholesale Corp.


Kohl's Corp.


Macy's Inc.


Ross Stores





Stein Mart Inc.


     Another plus for Bon-Ton: Home was one of the seven best performing categories.
"We are pleased with our sales performance in November, which included a record-breaking Black Friday," said Tony Buccina, vice chairman and president - merchandising. "We begin December well-positioned for holiday selling with comparable store inventory up 3% and our aging of inventory much improved over last year."
     Tied for fourth place in November comps were Menomonee Falls , W i s . - based Kohl's and Cincinnati-based Macy's - both with 6.1% comps.
     Encouraged by this, Macy's said increased its guidance for sales and earnings in the fourth quarter of 2010. Same-store sales are now are expected to be up 3.5% to 4.5%, compared with previous guidance of up 3% to 4%. Earnings guidance now is $1.44 to $1.49 per share, compared with previous guidance of $1.42 to $1.47 per share. This would result in full-year 2010 earnings of $1.96 to $2.01 per share, excluding expenses associated with the early retirement of debt.

Four weeks ended November 27 a (dollar amounts in millions) a 


2010 SALES

2009 SALES



BJ's Wholesale Club b




The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.




Costco Wholesale Corp. c d



 12.0 7.0

Dillard's Inc.



 7.0 8.0

Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc.



 8.5 5.8

Fred's Inc.



 6.0 4.7

J. C. Penney Company Inc.



 7.2 9.2

Kohl's Corp.



 8.1 6.1

Macy's Inc.



 7.8 6.1

Ross Stores Inc.



 10.0 6.0

Stein Mart Inc.



 (0.2) 0.0

Target Corp.



 5.7 5.5

The TJX Companies Inc.



 7.0 3.0



2010 SALES

2009 SALES



BJ's Wholesale Club b



 8.6 4.8

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc.



 0.9 1.2

Costco Wholesale Corp. e



 11.0 4.0

Dillard's Inc.



 1.0 2.0

Duckwall-ALCO Stores Inc.



 1.8 3.2

Fred's Inc.



 4.0 2.4

J. C. Penney Company Inc.



 1.3 2.5

Kohl's Corp.



 7.5 4.7

Macy's Inc.



 7.1 4.9

Ross Stores Inc.



 10.0 6.0

Stein Mart Inc.



 (3.3) (1.8)

Target Corp.



 4.3 2.4

The TJX Companies Inc.



 9.0 4.0

a. Reporting periods vary from chain to chain.
b. Excluding gasoline, merchandise comparable club sales increased 3.8% for the four-week period. Year to date merchandise comparable club sales excluding gasoline increased 2.9%.
c. Total sales results include sales from the company's Mexico joint venture.
d. Comp club results are for the U.S. division. Excluding the positive impacts of inflation in gasoline prices and strengthening foreign currencies, comparable club sales for the month were up 6% in the U.S. division, 8% in the international division, and 6% for the total company.
e. Because it is on a different fiscal calendar than most of the other key retailers on this list, Costco's year-to-date sales and comp results reflect the past 13-week period. Excluding the positive impact of inflation in gasoline and strengthening foreign currencies, comparable club sales were up 3% in the United States, 10% in the international division, and 5% for the total company year to date.

Cecile CorralCecile Corral | Senior Product Editor, Home & Textiles Today

Cecile B. Corral has been a product editor with Home Textiles Today since late 2000. She covers the area and accent rug, kitchen textiles, table linens, beach towels, decorative bath and decorative pillow categories, as well as some retail subjects.

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