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  • Andrea Lillo

Chain sales unsettled at start of year

An unsettled economy and global outlook, coupled with January being a typically tough month for retailers, resulted in tepid sales for the month.

With inventories tightened for months, retailers had less merchandise on hand, which may have impacted sales, too.

Home caused trouble for some retailers, falling in the double digits in some cases, but was positive for others.

Comp performances were led by Hancock Fabrics, Kohl's and Costco, with numbers in the mid to high digits. Department stores brought up the rear, with Stein Mart at a negative 12 percent; Sears U.S., negative 8 percent and Mervyn's, negative 6.6 percent.

Wal-Mart's comps were up modestly for the period. With the total company having $17.4 billion sales for the month and 2.3 percent comp increase, the divisions saw 2.6 percent growth at Wal-Mart and 0.9 percent at Sam's Club. The international division also did well, with four-week sales of $3.173 billion, up 17.2 percent, as well as 11.4 percent for the year.

"As planned, we had limited clearance and cold weather merchandise at year-end," said Michael Fisher, ceo, Stein Mart. "Subsequently, with the unusually cold January in our key markets, our customers were not motivated to respond to our transitional and spring merchandise to the extent we anticipated." The retailers also posted a total sales decline of 8.7 percent.

Sears saw home fashions in its full-line stores drop down by a high-teen percentage, the company said, as categories such as home fashions and home decor were affected by business exits. The Great Indoors saw comps in the low single digits.

At JCPenney, lower levels of clearance merchandise, resulting from strong December sales, impacted January sales, which were below plan, the company said. The department stores saw comps drop 3.8 percent, while the company overall fell 2.8 percent. Catalog sales continue to drop, as the company expected, and this month fell 27.8 percent. However, the company pointed out that its Internet sales continue to experience strong growth. They jumped 21.4 percent for January, and 17.8 percent for the year, for a year-end total of $381 million.

"January comparable sales results were within our first quarter plan of a mid-single-digit percentage decline," said Alan Lacy, chairman and ceo. "We continue to tightly manage expenses and margins and remain on track to deliver our annual comparable earnings per share guidance of a low- to mid-single digit percentage increase over 2002 comparable earnings per share of $4.92."

Home was one of the weakest performers at department store Mervyn's, a division of Target Corp. The parent company saw January comps decline 0.4 percent.

"Although our sales momentum is relatively weak, our financial performance for 2002 remains on track due to continued strength in our gross margin rate performance and substantial growth in contribution from our credit card operations."

Falling 12.0 percent at Dillard's, the home area was significantly below the company average, according to the company.

Home fashions comps were in line with the chain at the MarMaxx group at TJX, the company said. For January, comp-store sales at MarMaxx, which includes T.J. Maxx and Marshall's, dropped 4.0 percent, while for the year it was a positive 2.0 percent. HomeGoods also saw a decline for January, of 1.0 percent, while it had a strong 6.0 percent for fiscal 2003. A.J. Wright posted strong numbers both for January and the year: 6.0 percent (compared to a 32 percent gain in the same period last year) and 11.0 percent, respectively.

Home did shine for some, however. Saks' Saks Department Store Group listed home and private brand merchandise among its best performers for the month.

At Elder-Beerman, the entire home store, including domestics and furniture, were among the strongest categories.

January sales for major retailers (period ending 2/1/03)a
sales in $millions

Company 2002 sales 2001 sales Total % change Same-store % change
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: Will not report numbers until emerges from Chapter 11.
c: For the period ending Feb. 2.
d: For the period ending Jan. 31.
e: For the period ending Jan. 25.
f: Excludes sales of stores that have been closed and not replaced.
g: For an eleventh month period.
Ames b NA NA NA NA
Costco c $2,970.0 $2,730.0 8.8 5.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $469.0 $499.2 (6.0) (5.0)
Dollar General d $429.9 $381.5 12.7 3.8
Elder-Beerman $27.7 $26.5 4.5 4.6
Family Dollar $302.1 $261.8 15.4 4.7
Federated $775.0 $774.0 0.1 (1.2)
Gottschalks $35.5 $35.4 0.4 2.0
Hancock Fabrics c $34.8 $40.8 (14.7) 8.4
JCPenney e $2,075.0 $2,134.0 (2.8) NA
Dept. stores $804.0 $837.0 (3.9) (3.8)
Catalog/e-commerce $153.0 $212.0 (27.8) NA
Jo-Ann Stores $112.9 $111.7 1.1 2.7
Kmart b NA NA NA NA
Kohl's Corp. $468.9 $383.9 22.1 5.5
May Dept. Stores $655.0 $671.4 (2.4) (4.4)
Pier 1 Imports $117.1 $106.1 10.4 1.1
Ross Stores c $196.0 $183.0 7.1 (2.0)
Saks Inc. $322.4 $328.5 (1.9) (2.1)
Dept. stores $184.6 $183.4 0.7 0.0
Sears U.S. sales $1,581.1 $1,688.3 (6.3) (8.0)
ShopKo f $193.0 $198.7 (2.9) (2.6)
ShopKo stores $145.2 NA (2.8) (2.8)
Pamida $47.8 NA (3.0) (2.1)
Stein Mart $67.9 $74.4 (8.7) (12.0)
Target Corp. $2,738.0 $2,543.0 7.7 (0.4)
Target $2,386.0 NA 9.8 0.3
Mervyn's $183.0 NA (6.6) (6.6)
Marshall Field's $131.0 NA (2.6) (2.6)
TJX Cos. $676.0 $631.0 7.1 (2.0)
Value City $118.2 $114.6 3.2 (6.4)
Value City Dept. stores $69.8 $69.6 0.3 (6.3)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $17,391.0 $15,399.0 12.9 2.3
Wal-Mart stores $10,631.0 $9,562.0 11.2 2.6
Sam's Club $2,242.0 $2,096.0 7.0 0.9
52 weeks to date
Ames b NA NA NA NA
Costco c NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $7,911.0 $8,155.0 (3.0) (3.0)
Dollar General d $6,100.0 $5,300.0 15.1 5.7
Elder-Beerman $639.9 $643.1 (0.5) (2.4)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated $15,435.0 $15,651.0 (1.4) (3.0)
Gottschalks $691.4 $710.7 (2.7) (0.8)
Hancock Fabrics c $438.0 $411.9 6.3 8.3
JCPenney e $32,347.0 $32,004.0 1.1 NA
JCPenney stores $15,091.0 $14,808.0 1.9 2.6
Catalog/e-commerce $2,613.0 $3,349.0 (22.0) NA
Jo-Ann Stores $1,682.0 $1,570.0 7.1 8.4
Kmart b NA NA NA NA
Kohl's Corp. $9,120.3 $7,488.7 21.8 5.3
May Dept. Stores $13,490.5 $13,883.4 (2.8) (5.3)
Pier 1 Imports g $1,638.3 $1,435.8 14.1 5.5
Ross Stores c $3,531.0 $2,987.0 18.2 7.0
Saks Inc. $5,866.6 $6,017.2 (2.5) (1.4)
Dept. stores $3,554.0 $3,601.0 (1.3) (1.6)
Sears U.S. sales $28,377.0 $29,476.2 (3.7) (6.1)
ShopKo f $3,240.2 NA (2.3) (2.0)
ShopKo stores $2,456.1 NA (1.1) (1.1)
Pamida $784.1 NA (6.1) (4.8)
Stein Mart $1,409.0 $1,320.0 6.7 (0.8)
Target Corp. $42,722.0 NA 9.2 1.1
Target $36,026.0 NA 12.0 2.2
Mervyn's $3,647.0 NA (5.5) (5.3)
Marshall Field's $2,555.0 NA (3.7) (3.7)
TJX Cos. $11,990.0 $10,731.0 11.7 3.0
Value City $2,450.7 $2,283.9 7.3 (3.5)
Value City Dept. stores $1,518.6 $1,481.2 2.5 (5.1)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $244,495.0 $219,060.0 11.6 5.0
Wal-Mart stores $156,735.0 $138,914.0 12.8 5.6
Sam's Clubs $31,614.0 $29,353.0 7.7 2.2


TOP 3
Company % chg.
Hancock Fabrics 8.4%
Kohls 5.5
Costco 5.0
BOTTOM 3
Company % chg.
Stein Mart -12.0%
Sears -8.0
Mervyn's -6.6


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