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Retailers rebound slightly in October

Facing a list of challenges that seems to grow longer each week, retailers rebounded a bit from September, with same-store sales climbing 1.3 percent for October.

However, in addition to the slumping economy and the fallout from the September terrorist attacks, chain stores still have to deal with sagging consumer confidence on the cusp of the holiday season.

"We continue to feel the effects of a weaker retail environment," said Jim Famalette, president and ceo of Gottschalks, and others echoed his sentiments.

Value-oriented retailers were not surprisingly among the winners last month, as consumers became more discriminating about how they spent their money. Costco, Dollar General, Family Dollar, the Target division of Target Corp., and all of Wal-Mart's divisions posted single-digit increases in comp-store sales, as well as double-digit increases in overall sales.

Other chains that accomplished this were Jo-Ann Fabrics, Pier 1 Imports, and TJX. Kohl's showed double-digit increases in both categories.

Unfortunately, times are tougher for department stores. Marshall Field's, Federated's department stores, Elder-Beerman, May, Saks Inc., and Sears (tied with discounter Kmart) pulled the worst comp-store sales in the chain stores group for October, respectively.

Elder-Beerman noted that October sales were affected by the shift of a major sales event from October 2000 to September 2001, and the total combined sales for September and October provide a better comparison to 2000, which would show a sales decrease of 0.3 percent and comp-store decrease of 3.9 percent.

Saks Inc.'s Saks Department Store Group cited home as showing weaker sales performances last month.

And though Family Dollar had a strong month, with a 15.8 percent sales increase and a 6.2 percent comp store sales increase, that was mainly due to its hardlines, which grew about 8.2 percent, while softlines declined about 0.3 percent.

For other chain stores, however, the home category was a plus. JCPenney said home furnishings was one of the best performers last month, along with apparel and men's. Ross Stores saw the home category earn mid-single-digit growth.

At TJX's MarMaxx Group — the umbrella for T.J. Maxx and Marshalls — home outperformed apparel on a comp basis, with home comps up 6 percent and apparel up 3 percent. In addition, TJX's HomeGoods unit saw its comps climb 12.0 percent, ahead of plan.

Pier 1 Imports, with a 12.2 percent sales gain as well as comp-store sales growth of 4.0 percent, believes that home will perform well over the next few months, said Marvin Girouard, chairman and ceo.

In addition, Kmart noted that in October 2000, it liquidated more than $52 million worth of discontinued inventory, which accounted for 2 percent of its same-store sales that month. Excluding the effect of those liquidation sales, Kmart's same-store sales for October 2001 would have improved by 200 basis points.

"Our sales mix was healthier this year, with an increase of more than 10 percent in regular-priced merchandise compared to last year, reflecting our launch of BlueLight Always and a significant reduction of print media," said Chuck Conaway, chairman and ceo. "In addition to the weaker Halloween sales, as some communities scaled back trick or treating, we moved our very important toy catalog promotion into November, for a higher return on capital."

The top and the bottom

TOP 3
STORE % chg.
Kohl's 13.5
Dollar General 8.5
Jo-Ann Stores 8.4
BOTTOM 3
STORE % chg.
Marshall Field's -10.1
Federated Dept. Stores -8.7
Elder-Beerman -8.3


October Sales For Major Retailers
Period Ending 11/3/01a(sales in $000s)

Company 2001 sales 2000 sales Total % change Same-store % change
( ): loss
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: Will not report until reemerges from Chapter 11.
c: For the period ending Nov. 4
d: For the period ending November 2
e: For the period ending October 27
f: For the period ending October 31
g: Excludes sales of stores that have been closed and not replaced.
Amesb NA NA NA NA
Costcoc $2,830.0 $2,510.0 12.7 6.0
Dillard Dept. Stores 524.4 558.1 (6.0) (6.0)
Dollar Generald 418.4 345.0 21.3 8.5
Elder-Beerman 47.0 50.9 (7.7) (8.3)
Family Dollar 291.2 251.5 15.8 6.2
Federated 1,117.0 1,291.0 (13.5) NA
Dept. stores 1,058.0 1,150.0 (8.0) (8.7)
Fingerhut 119.0 141.0 (15.6) NA
Gottschalks 47.7 49.4 (3.4) (2.4)
Hancock Fabrics NA NA NA NA
JCPenneye 2,414.0 2,391.0 1.0 NA
Dept. stores 1,054.0 1,074.0 (1.9) (0.7)
Catalog/e-commerce 303.0 342.0 (11.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 153.3 134.7 13.8 8.4
Kmartf 2,416.0 2,542.0 (5.0) (4.4)
Kohl's Corp. 577.8 452.4 27.7 13.5
May Dept. Stores 966.0 1,010.0 (4.4) (6.4)
Pier 1 Imports 114.1 101.6 12.2 4.0
Ross Stores 238.0 218.0 9.2 1.0
Saks Inc. 448.9 493.2 (9.0) (6.4)
Dept. stores 277.7 290.8 (4.5) 0.2
Sears U.S. sales 2,152.6 2,227.9 (3.4) (4.4)
ShopKog 250.9 NA 3.3 5.1
Shopko stores 189.7 NA 4.1 5.0
Pamida 61.2 NA 0.6 5.4
Target Corp. 2,873.0 NA 8.9 2.0
Target 2,336.0 NA 12.8 4.1
Mervyn's 283.0 NA (1.6) (1.0)
Marshall Field's 226.0 NA (10.1) (10.1)
TJX Cos. 885.0 787.0 12.5 4.0
Value City 182.7 170.1 7.4 3.0
Value City Dept. stores 110.9 108.1 2.6 4.8
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.d 16,616.0 14,503.0 14.6 6.7
Wal-Mart stores 10,443.0 9,131.0 14.4 6.3
Sam's Club 2,300.0 2,033.0 13.1 8.3
39 weeks to date
Amesb NA NA NA NA
Costcoc NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $5,620.9 $5,904.6 (4.8) (5.0)
Dollar Generald 3,700.0 3,100.0 19.4 7.6
Elder-Beerman 423.5 427.6 (1.0) (3.2)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated 11,330.0 12,292.0 (7.8) NA
Dept. stores 10,520.0 11,034.0 (4.7) (5.0)
Fingerhut 810.0 1,258.0 (35.6) NA
Gottschalks 469.6 405.0 16.0 0.3
Hancock Fabrics NA NA NA NA
JCPenneye 22,462.0 22,273.0 0.8 NA
JCPenney stores 9,900.0 9,791.0 1.1 2.9
Catalog/e-commerce 2,377.0 2,880.0 (17.5) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 1,072.1 986.9 8.6 5.2
Kmartf 25,274.0 25,547.0 (1.1) 0.4
Kohl's Corp. 4,764.4 3,929.0 21.3 5.9
May Dept. Stores 9,490.0 9,450.0 0.4 (3.5)
Pier 1 Imports 927.3 863.6 7.4 1.1
Ross Stores 2,138.0 1,947.0 9.8 1.0
Saks Inc. 4,125.9 4,425.2 (6.8) (5.3)
Dept. stores 2,421.9 2,575.0 (5.9) (2.2)
Sears U.S. sales 20,783.5 21,249.9 (2.2) (2.7)
ShopKog 2,314.6 NA 3.0 0.8
Shopko stores 1,713.8 NA 0.9 0.1
Pamida 600.8 NA 9.7 (3.9)
Target Corp. 26,172.0 NA 8.3 1.7
Target 21,381.0 NA 11.5 3.1
Mervyn's 2,645.0 NA (2.7) (2.2)
Marshall Field's 1,875.0 NA (5.7) (5.7)
TJX Cos. 7,567.0 6,886.0 9.9 2.0
Value City 1,651.0 1,550.1 6.5 (3.0)
Value City Dept. stores 1,052.0 1,086.4 (3.2) (4.6)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.d 155,785.0 137,197.0 13.5 5.7
Wal-Mart stores 98,818.0 86,974.0 13.6 5.6
Sam's Clubs 21,132.0 19,295.0 9.5 6.0


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