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Retailers eye rebound from soft September

Not surprisingly, retailers unanimously echoed the negative impact of last month's terrorist attacks with same-store sales increases of just 0.5% in September.

However, most retailers found sales improved somewhat later in the month as consumers ventured back into the stores.

"Comparable-store sales were significantly affected by the tragic events of Sept. 11," said Alan Lacy, chairman and ceo, Sears. "Though we experienced double-digit sales decreases that week, sales recovered somewhat throughout the remainder of the month."

He added that "the outlook for consumer spending in the balance of the year remains uncertain" — a sentiment heard from several other retailers.

Stores nationwide were affected by the drought in consumer traffic following the attacks, though locations in the New York and Washington areas were directly touched.

"We had to close numerous high volume stores in the New York and Washington areas and shorten store hours for the remaining stores in those areas," said Chuck Conaway, chairman and ceo, Kmart. "However, with basic items accounting for approximately 40 percent of our business, we have been able to maintain our sales base even in times of uncertainty."

At Federated's two Manhattan flagship stores — Macy's Herald Square and Bloomingdale's 59th Street — sales significantly trailed its overall sales trend, the company said, though sales for both stores improved later in the month. Excluding the sales of those two stores, Federated said that its September comp sales would have been about one point better than it reported, a loss of 12.9 percent.

TJX has "continued to pursue an aggressive markdown strategy to keep our very liquid position, which enables us to buy smarter and offer excellent fashion, quality and price to our customers," English said. "There is an abundance of tremendous buys in the marketplace. And, with our very liquid inventories and large open-to-buy positions, we are taking advantage of them."

The performance of home merchandise was a mixed bag for the chains, faring better for some retailers than others. Elder-Beerman, for example, cited the home store, including furniture, as one of its best performing categories for the month.

Marvin Girouard, president and ceo, Pier 1 Imports, said, "During the month our customers responded very well to our annual dining and bedroom promotions. We also are pleased to see our core customers responding well to introductions of new merchandise."

Pier 1 Imports felt that consumers will travel less this holiday season and spend more time in their homes with family and friends. "Pier 1 is well positioned to take advantage of this behavior through the rest of the year," Girouard said. "New and exciting holiday and home entertaining merchandise is now arriving daily in all of our stores."

Family Dollar said that sales in softlines decreased 2.2 percent, compared to a 9.9 percent gain for hardlines.

JCPenney shined again this month, with an 8.1 percent increase in comp-store sales, one of the leaders for the month. The company attributed the strong sales, which were consistent across the country and in most product categories, to the successful planned marketing and promotional programs.

Jo-Ann Fabrics stated that about 2 percent of its total sales for the month were from clearance items that were being eliminated under the previously announced sku reduction initiative, launched in May.

The top and the bottom

TOP 3
STORE % chg.
Dollar General 9.0
JCPenney dept. stores 8.1
Hancock Fabrics 7.1
BOTTOM 3
STORE % chg.
Federated (12.9)
Saks Inc. (11.5)
May Dept. Stores (10.9)


September sales for major retailers
Period ending 10/6/01a(sales in $000s)

Company 2001 sales 2000 sales Total % change Same-store % change
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: Will not report numbers until reemerges from Chapter 11.
c: For the period ending Oct. 7.
d: For the period ending Oct. 5.
e: For the period ending Sept. 30.
f: For the period ending Sept. 29.
g: For the period ending Oct. 3.
h: Excludes sales of stores that have been closed.
Amesb NA NA NA NA
Costcoc 3,260.0 2,970.0 9.8 4.0
Dillard Dept. Stores 727.8 788.9 (7.7) (8.0)
Dollar Generald 497.0 407.5 22.0 9.0
Elder-Beerman 59.5 55.9 6.4 (0.1)
Family Dollar 350.3 299.8 16.8 6.7
Federated 1,396.0 1,632.0 (14.5) NA
Dept. stores 1,289.0 1,481.0 (13.0) (12.9)
Fingerhut 0.1 0.2 (29.4) NA
Gottschalks 56.3 63.7 (11.6) (6.5)
Hancock Fabricse 39.4 37.5 5.1 7.1
JCPenneyf 2,837.0 2,773.0 2.3 NA
Dept. stores 1,295.0 1,212.0 6.8 8.1
Catalog 262.0 366.0 (28.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 155.6 141.3 10.1 4.0
Kmartg 2,987.0 3,044.0 (1.9) 0.0
Kohl's Corp. 622.6 518.1 20.2 4.0
May Dept. Stores 1,181.8 1,296.2 (8.8) (10.9)
Pier 1 Imports 130.6 124.5 4.9 (0.8)
Ross Stores 263.0 226.0 16.4 4.0
Saks Inc. 549.9 633.3 (13.2) (11.5)
Dept. stores 329.5 349.2 (5.6) (1.7)
Sears U.S. salesf 2,511.3 2,672.3 (6.0) (6.7)
ShopKoh 282.1 NA 2.0 (1.7)
Shopko stores 207.1 NA (0.5) (1.5)
Pamida 75.0 NA 9.5 (2.0)
Target Corp. 3,286.0 NA 7.4 0.2
Target 2,672.0 NA 10.6 1.3
Mervyn's 306.0 NA (9.1) (8.7)
Marshall Field's 268.0 NA 1.9 1.9
TJX Companies 1,044.0 947.0 10.2 2.0
Value City 219.7 217.4 1.1 (3.7)
Value City Dept. stores 137.6 145.5 (5.4) (2.3)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.d 19,844.0 17,287.0 14.8 6.3
Wal-Mart stores 12,634.0 11,009.0 14.8 6.7
Sam's Club 2,689.0 2,457.0 9.4 4.6
35 weeks to date
Amesb NA NA NA NA
Costcoc NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores 5,096.5 5,346.5 (4.7) (5.0)
Dollar Generalc 3,300.0 2,800.0 17.9 7.5
Elder-Beerman 376.5 376.7 (0.1) (2.6)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated 10,153.0 11,002.0 (7.7) NA
Dept. stores 9,463.0 9,885.0 (4.3) (4.5)
Fingerhut 0.7 1.1 (38.2) NA
Gottschalks 421.8 355.5 18.6 0.6
Hancock Fabricse 250.8 248.0 1.1 2.9
JCPenney 20,048.0 19,882.0 0.8 NA
JCPenney stores 8,846.0 8,717.0 1.5 3.4
Catalog 2,074.0 2,538.0 (18.3) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 918.8 852.2 7.8 4.7
Kmartg 22,857.0 23,005.0 (0.6) 1.0
Kohl's Corp. 4,186.5 3,476.6 20.4 5.1
May Dept. Stores 8,522.4 8,442.5 0.9 (3.1)
Pier 1 Imports 813.3 762.0 6.7 0.8
Ross Stores 1,900.0 1,729.0 9.9 1.0
Saks Inc. 3,677.2 3,932.1 (6.5) (5.2)
Dept. stores 2,144.4 2,284.2 (6.1) (2.5)
Sears U.S. salesf 18,630.9 19,022.0 (2.1) (2.5)
ShopKoh 2,063.7 NA 3.0 (1.5)
Shopko stores 1,524.2 NA 0.5 (0.5)
Pamida 539.5 NA 10.8 (4.9)
Target Corp. 23,299.0 NA 8.2 1.7
Target 19,045.0 NA 11.4 3.0
Mervyn's 2,362.0 NA (2.9) (2.4)
Marshall Field's 1,649.0 NA (5.0) (5.0)
TJX Companies 6,682.0 6,099.0 9.6 2.0
Value City 1,468.3 1,380.0 6.4 (3.8)
Value City Dept. stores 941.1 978.4 (3.8) (5.5)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.d 139,169.0 122,694.0 13.4 5.5
Wal-Mart stores 88,375.0 77,843.0 13.5 5.5
Sam's Club 18,832.0 17,262.0 9.1 5.6


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