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Mid-tier Retailers Take Sept. Lumps

With hurricanes pounding Southeastern states and gas prices climbing, same-store sales remained sluggish for most key American retailers during September.

Stores at opposite ends of the retail spectrum did best — value retailers and luxury nameplates — while most others in the vast middle ground got clobbered.

Putting a number on it, the Johnson Redbook Same-Store Flash Report, which tracks a sample of 60 broadlines retailers across a wide range of formats, reported that same-store sales edged up 1.8 percent, ahead of a weaker 0.5 percent increase in August, but still behind a strong 2.8 percent increase recorded in July. It marked a fourth straight month of soft sales at retail, and even the important back-to-school promotion could provide only a modest bounce as consumers continued to fret about the jobs outlook and had less money to spend after filling up the tank.

The strongest gains were reported at warehouse clubs and high-value retailers, with BJ's Warehouse Club up 8.3 percent; Costco up 8 percent; Target climbing 5.6 percent. Florida-based Stein Mart rose 5.2 percent, even though storms cost the retailer about $5 million in sales, said CEO Michael Fisher.

Luxury retailers like Nordstrom's and Neiman-Marcus turned in a strong performance. But Saks Inc. reported a 4 percent decline in comps, as a strong 5.8 percent gain in its tony Saks Fifth Avenue stores was more than offset by a 10.9 percent slide in its department store group.

But retailers in the big middle, among them some of the nation's best-known names, performed poorly. Even giant Wal-Mart managed only a 2.4 percent increase, running far behind rival Target, where comps rose more than twice as fast, 5.6 percent. Sales in ShopKo stores were off 1.6 percent, while sales at the chain's small-store Pamida division were flat.

Notably hard hit were full-price department stores, and even mid-price powerhouse Kohl's, where same-store sales remained weak, slipping 1.3 percent. Sales tumbled 3.2 percent at Sears, 2.8 percent at Dillard's; and 1.5 percent at May. Sales at Federated were virtually flat, edging up 0.1 percent.

Some go up ...

Warehouse Clubs, Value Retailers Come Out On Top
BJ's Wholesale Club 8.3%
Costco 8.0
Target 5.6
Stein Mart 5.2
Sam's Clubs 4.5
Luxury Still Going Strong
Nordstrom 8.8%
Saks Fifth Avenue 5.8
Neiman Marcus 5.6
Others Take It On the Chin
Saks Department Stores -10.9
Value City Dept. Stores -9.7
Hancock Fabrics -8.7
Ross Stores -5.0
Sears -3.2
May Dept. Stores -1.5
Kohl's -1.3


Same-Store Sales
September sales for key retailers
Five weeks ended Oct. 2a, (dollar amounts in millions)

2004 sales 2003 sales Total %chg. Same-store %chg.
a Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b for the five weeks year to date of the new fiscal year beginning Aug. 30, 2004.
c for the five weeks year to date of the new fiscal year beginning Aug. 31, 2004.
BJ's Wholesale Club $676.8 $603.5 12.1% 8.3%
The Bon-Ton Stores 114.8 62.8 82.9 -0.1
Costco 4,530.0 4,070.0 11.3 8.0
Dillard Dept. Stores 688.8 707.7 -2.7 -2.7
Dollar General 717.5 638.8 12.3 4.2
Family Dollar 510.6 463.6 10.1 1.5
Federated 1,349.0 1,352.0 -0.2 0.1
Gottschalks 56.8 53.8 5.5 6.0
Hancock Fabrics 40.0 43.7 -8.5 -8.7
JCPenney 1,508.0 1,474.0 2.3 NA
Dept. stores 1,255.0 1,229.0 2.1 2.0
Catalog/e-commerce 253.0 245.0 3.3 NA
Jo-Ann Stores 167.3 165.2 1.3 0.0
Kohl's Corp. 904.1 797.4 13.4 -1.3
May Dept. Stores 1,339.2 1,135.0 17.9 -1.5
Pier 1 Imports 175.6 168.7 4.1 -3.9
Retail Ventures 258.5 261.4 1.1 -7.3
Value City Department Stores 124.7 138.2 -9.8 -9.7
Ross Stores 374.0 363.0 3.0 -5.0
Saks Inc. 569.3 591.7 -3.8 -4.0
Saks Fifth Avenue Stores 259.8 243.1 6.9 5.8
Dept. stores 309.5 348.6 -11.2 -10.9
Sears U.S. sales 2,332.8 2,453.5 -4.9 -3.2
ShopKo 262.9 266.8 -1.5 -1.2
ShopKo stores 192.9 NA -2.0 -1.6
Pamida 70.0 NA 0.2 0.1
Stein Mart 128.7 124.4 3.4 5.2
Target Corp. 3,866.0 3,437.0 12.5 5.6
TJX Cos. 1,400.0 1,300.0 9.0 1.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 25,739.0 23,239.0 10.8 2.4
Wal-Mart stores 17,169.0 15,699.0 9.4 2.0
Sam's Club 3,394.0 3,210.0 8.5 4.5
YTD sales for major retailers
35 weeks month to date
BJ's Wholesale Club $4,661.8 $4,169.2 11.8% 7.3%
The Bon-Ton Stores 750.2 405.0 85.2 -1.5
Costco b 4,530.0 4,070.0 11.3 8.0
Dillard Dept. Stores 4,768.0 4,818.6 -1.0 -2.0
Dollar General 4,900.0 4,400.0 11.4 3.3
Family Dollar c 510.6 463.6 10.1 1.5
Federated 9,460.0 9,154.0 3.3 3.4
Gottschalks 396.4 393.6 0.7 2.1
Hancock Fabrics 265.6 278.0 -4.5 -4.9
JCPenney 10,938.0 10,307.0 6.1 NA
JCPenney stores 9,313.0 8,731.0 6.7 6.8
Catalog/e-commerce 1,625.0 1,576.0 3.1 NA
Jo-Ann Stores 1,064.0 1,022.0 4.1 3.2
Kohl's Corp. 6,663.7 5,897.0 13.0 -0.7
May Dept. Stores 8,311.7 7,961.7 4.4 -1.2
Pier 1 Imports 1,059.9 999.2 6.0 -2.6
Retail Ventures 1,745.9 1,659.6 5.2 -0.8
Value City Department Stores 895.7 941.5 -4.9 -4.8
Ross Stores 2,687.0 2,523.0 6.5 -2.0
Saks Inc. 3,851.4 3,591.8 7.2 6.1
Saks Fifth Avenue Stores 1,674.3 1,458.1 14.8 13.0
Dept. stores 2,177.1 2,133.7 2.0 1.4
Sears U.S. sales 16,763.6 17,419.4 -3.8 -2.5
ShopKo 2,028.3 NA 1.6 1.9
ShopKo stores 1,508.6 NA 1.8 2.0
Pamida 519.7 NA 1.1 1.4
Stein Mart 905.5 851.5 6.3 9.3
Target Corp. 27,494.0 NA 11.8 5.1
TJX Cos. 9,300.0 8,200.0 14.0 5.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. 182,003.0 163,246.0 11.5 3.8
Wal-Mart stores 122,058.0 110,858.0 10.1 3.2
Sam's Clubs 24,236.0 22,343.0 8.5 3.8


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