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Home helps improved January sales

New York – More than half of the key retailers reporting monthly sales in January completed the four-week period with positive comp store sales results, signaling there just might be an uptick in the economy in store for 2010.

This, especially since “January is typically not a big shopping month,” noted Sherry Lang, svp, investor and public relations, TJX Companies – which came is with the highest comp sales results for the month at 12%.

Even more noteworthy – home, in many cases, contributed to the favorable January result at these stores.

At TJX’s Marmaxx, home fashions comps were up 16%, beating out apparel’s 12% comp increase.

“We continue to be pleased with the very strong performance of our home categories,” Lang said.

Warehouse club chain Costco, which came in third highest in comps at 8%, enjoyed its “strongest sales results” in January in its soft lines categories, said Jeff Elliott, assistant vp, of financial planning and investor relations.

Many of Costco’s sub-categories were up as much as 20% on a comp basis. Among them were domestics, home furnishings and housewares, among others.

At Ross Stores, home and shoes proved “the strongest merchandise categories in January,” said Michael Balmuth, vice chairman and ceo, aiding the off-price retailer reach 8.0% comp gains for the month.

Both the home and shoe categories at Ross posted same store sales gains in “the high teen percentage range,” added John Call, Ross’ cfo.

At the Bon-Ton Stores, “January sales finished strong with our semi-annual home sale generating solid comparable sales gains in soft home, hard home and furniture,” said Tony Buccina, vice chairman and president-merchandising.

Target’s comp store sales in home came in “slightly above the overall company’s performance,” the discount department store chain said. Within home, the strongest performers were decorative home goods and the weakest were seasonal items.

“Our January comparable-store sales were in line with our expectations, as lower clearance sales held back our year-over-year growth,” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and ceo. “We experienced strong guest traffic in January, and comparable-store sales in both our apparel and home categories were positive for the month.”

The home area posted positive comparisons in January at Stein Mart, too.

"Consistent with this year's inventory management strategy, we had significantly less clearance merchandise this January compared to January last year," said David Stovall Jr., president and ceo. "While the lack of sale merchandise was challenging in a traditionally clearance month, it did allow us to emphasize full-price selling."

But while home was a headliner in January for many, it wasn’t at Dillard’s, where the sales performances in the home and furniture category “were significantly below trend,” the department store reported.




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