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Post-war retail sales soft in un-sunny days

Sales remained soft for May, the first full month since the war ended. The unseasonable weather was a factor for some retailers, particularly ones with stores in the Northeast.

Inventories remain a hot topic for retailers, some comfortable with increased levels and others working to cut them back.

Weather wise, May was not a bad month, said Paul Walsh, vp, client services, Planalytics. "Despite unfavorable conditions in the Northeast, weather patterns in May drove the most positive weather-driven demand comp change for spring/summer merchandise since May 2000."

Wal-Mart's sales grew 10 percent for the month, with the strongest sales made during the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, it said. Inventories remain above goal of growing inventories at half rate of sales, but the company has made considerable improvement in inventory levels in apparel and seasonal categories.

In the Wal-Mart division, which reported 2.1 percent comp increase, both the average ticket and traffic were positive, with traffic making up two thirds of the comp increase. The Midwest and Northeast were the best performing regions for the month.

At Target Stores, the company overall saw a slight comp increase of 0.7 percent, while the Target division saw 1.4 percent. Home was one of the softest categories at Mervyns, where comps dipped 3.8 percent.

Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo, said "Sales for the corporation were on plan for May. While we are satisfied with the way this quarter has begun, June's contribution to our second quarter earnings performance is typically more significant than either May or July."

Comps in Costco's soft lines division — which also includes apparel and road shows — were up 1 percent, said Bob Nelson, head of investor relations. May brought "strong results in domestics and road shows," he said.

The department stores at JCPenney climbed 3.2 percent in comps for the month, and its catalog division saw its first increase in more than two years, at 0.6 percent. The Internet segment, included in catalog, also grew significantly, increasing 50 percent for the month, with response from both existing and new customers. Inventories for the department stores are on plan at a mid single digit increase, resulting in better in stocks in both seasonal and basic merchandise.

Sears slid in both total sales and comps in May, at a negative 1.3 percent and 1.9 percent respectively. Comps in the home fashions/home décor areas were also down, in the low teens, while The Great Indoors division was down in the high teens.

At TJX, cool weather affected sales for the month, though the continued strong performances of its younger divisions as well as the strengthening Canadian dollar and British pound brought the company's comp up to three percent. The Northeast was the weakest region for the month, while Florida, Mid Atlantic, Southwest and West outperformed the chain.

Marmaxx, which was slightly below guidance for the month and had flat comps, reported a four percent decrease in comps for the home fashions area.

Pier 1 Imports reported a comp store sales decrease of 1.8 percent in May. "Considering we were up against a very strong month last year and continued adverse weather conditions throughout most of the country, we were pleased with our May results," said Marvin Girouard, chairman and ceo.

TOP 3
company % chg.
Hancock Fabrics 5.1
Dollar General 4.9
Costco 4.0
BOTTOM 3
company % chg.
Dillards -7.0
Stein Mart -6.5
Shopko stores -4.7


May 2003 sales for major retailers (period ending 05/31/03)a
(sales in $millions)

Company 2003 sales 2002 sales Total % change Same-store % change
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: For the period ending June 4.
c: For the period ending May 30.
d: For the period ending May 24.
e: For the period ending June 1.
f: Excludes sales of stores that have been closed and not replaced.
Costcob $3,200.0 $2,950.0 8.5 4.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $536.6 $576.8 (7.0) (7.0)
Dollar Generalc $507.2 $446.1 13.7 4.9
Elder-Beerman $42.6 $42.8 (0.3) 1.5
Family Dollar $364.1 $320.9 13.5 3.6
Federated $1,137.0 $1,150.0 (1.1) (0.8)
Gottschalks $50.1 $49.7 0.7 3.4
Hancock Fabrics $30.8 $29.4 4.8 5.1
JCPenneyd $2,291.0 $2,267.0 1.1 NA
Dept. stores $960.0 $946.0 1.5 3.2
Catalog/e-commerce $179.0 $178.0 0.6 NA
Jo-Ann Stores $108.5 $107.4 1.0 2.3
Kohl's Corp.e $678.9 $596.2 13.9 0.1
May Dept. Stores $1,005.0 $1,025.4 (2.0) (3.9)
Pier 1 Imports $132.0 $124.1 6.3 (1.8)
Ross Stores $296.0 $268.0 10.4 0.0
Saks Inc. $389.9 $395.4 (1.4) (1.6)
Dept. stores $240.9 $240.0 0.4 (0.2)
Sears U.S. sales $2,179.4 $2,208.9 (1.3) (1.9)
ShopKof $244.2 $252.3 (3.2) (3.1)
ShopKo stores $179.3 NA (4.7) (4.7)
Pamida $64.9 NA 1.1 1.8
Stein Mart $108.2 $112.6 (3.9) (6.5)
Target Corp. $3,203.0 $2,980.0 7.5 0.7
Target $2,740.0 NA 9.2 1.4
Mervyn's $258.0 NA (3.5) (3.8)
Marshall Field's $174.0 NA (4.3) (3.0)
TJX Cos. $975.0 $884.0 10.3 3.0
Value City $202.9 $186.6 8.7 3.2
Value City Dept. stores $108.7 $105.4 3.1 3.7
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.c $18,953.0 $17,231.0 10.0 2.1
Wal-Mart stores $12,852.0 $11,794.0 9.0 2.1
Sam's Club $2,599.0 $2,445.0 6.3 1.8
17 weeks to date
Costcob NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $2,350.6 $2,487.6 (5.5) (5.0)
Dollar Generalc $2,100.0 $1,800.0 16.7 4.4
Elder-Beerman $173.7 $183.9 (5.6) (5.6)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated $4,428.0 $4,603.0 (3.8) (4.0)
Gottschalks $190.7 $199.3 (4.3) (2.1)
Hancock Fabrics $138.4 $133.4 3.7 4.4
JCPenney d $9,784.0 $9,995.0 (2.1) NA
JCPenney stores $4,096.0 $4,292.0 (4.6) (3.2)
Catalog/e-commerce $766.0 $838.0 (8.6) NA
Jo-Ann Stores $483.3 $479.8 0.7 2.5
Kohl's Corp.e $2,796.7 $2,466.8 13.4 (1.8)
May Dept. Stores $3,877.6 $4,121.5 (5.9) (7.6)
Pier 1 Imports $402.7 $384.4 4.8 (3.6)
Ross Stores $1,175.0 $1,088.0 8.0 (2.0)
Saks Inc. $1,761.0 $1,811.4 (2.8) (3.0)
Dept. stores $1,035.8 $1,053.7 (1.7) (2.2)
Sears U.S. sales $8,323.0 $8,732.8 (4.7) (5.5)
ShopKof $952.1 NA (3.0) (2.8)
ShopKo stores $709.8 NA (4.2) (4.2)
Pamida $242.3 NA 0.8 1.4
Stein Mart $438.7 $468.6 (6.4) (8.5)
Target Corp. $13,186.0 NA 7.1 0.1
Target $11,294.0 NA 9.1 1.1
Mervyn's $1,020.0 NA (6.2) (6.4)
Marshall Field's $732.0 NA (5.2) (4.4)
TJX Cos. $3,816.0 $3,594.0 6.2 (1.0)
Value City $791.5 $772.5 2.5 (2.6)
Value City Dept. stores $451.6 $464.6 (2.8) (2.3)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.c $77,322.0 $70,331.0 9.9 2.4
Wal-Mart stores $52,542.0 $48,097.0 9.2 2.4
Sam's Clubs $10,615.0 $9,904.0 7.2 2.2


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