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Cecile Corral

Holiday Kick-Off Not Quite Enough

NEW YORK - More than half of the top 10 retailers tracked monthly by HTT saw disappointing November comps, posting same-store sales declines even as the all-important holiday season got to an early start on Thanksgiving Day evening.
     Still, comp declines were softer than a year ago, showing at the very least some improvement heading into December over 2011's rates.
     Taking the steepest comp dive in the four-week period was Kohl's Corp. with a 5.6% dip. Still, all was not bad news, according to chairman, president and ceo Kevin Mansell. He said the mid-tier department store made significant strides in its online business.
     "Though November sales were lower than expectations, we are encouraged by improved sales over the Thanksgiving week," he explained. "There was a significant shift in Black Friday-related sales into our e-commerce channel. For the week, both transactions and sales in e-commerce increased over 50% with most of these sales being recognized in December. The combination of these e-commerce sales and our store sales resulted in higher sales for the last week of the month."
     Regional discounter Alco Stores posted a milder 1.7% comp loss, but home was not a contributor. Rather, decreases in the apparel business negatively impacted the total same-store sales by 2.3%, primarily as a result of lower sales of cold-weather apparel.
     President and ceo Rich Wilson highlighted the company's 2.7% increase in total sales, "which reflects a good start to the holiday shopping season and the contribution of our newer stores....On a same-store basis, performance in November was strong in key holiday-season businesses, primarily toys, electronics, housewares, domestics, stationery and Christmas. In addition, the food and consumables businesses delivered same-store sales increases for November."
     Even though comp losses dominated November's key retailer performance, worth noting were shifts among the list of winners.
     Making a turn-around as the leader of the pack was Stein Mart, which churned a 7.1% comp over its 4.6% comp decline a year ago. All merchandise categories posted positive comps, led by linens, men's furnishings and ladies' career sportswear.
     Heading into the holidays, "we are off to a terrific start. The results were clearly a culmination of great merchandise, great marketing and proper execution at all levels," said Jay Stein, interim ceo.

NOVEMBER SALES FOR KEY RETAILERS

Four Weeks Ended November 25, 2012 (dollar amounts in millions)

 

2012

2011

TOTAL

SAME-STORE

 

SALES

SALES 

%CHG.

%CHG

Alco Stores

$42.4

$41.3

2.7

(1.7)

Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

$301.3

$303.6

(0.8)

(0.1)

Costco Wholesale Corp. (b)

$8,150.0

$7,510.0

9.0

6.0

Fred's Inc.

$150.4

$152.1

(0.1)

(3.6)

Kohl's Corp.

$1,836.0

$1,930.0

(4.9)

(5.6)

Macy's Inc.

$2,450.0

$2,464.0

(0.6)

(0.7)

Ross Stores Inc.

$813.0

$765.0

6.0

2.0

Stein Mart Inc.

$109.8

$102.1

7.5

7.1

Target Corp.

$6,183.0

$6,191.0

(0.1)

(1.0)

The TJX Companies Inc.

$2,200.0

$2,000.0

7.0

3.0

43 WEEKS


2012

2011

TOTAL

SAME-STORE


SALES

SALES

%CHG.

%CHG

Alco Stores

$383.0

$376.2

1.8

(1.3)

Bon-Ton Stores Inc.

$2,205.7

$2,205.1

0.2

0.0

Costco Wholesale Corp.

$81,050.0

$73,090.0

0.1

NA

Fred's Inc.

$1,573.0

$1,534.0

3.0

(1.1)

Kohl's Corp.

$14,773.0

$14,716.0

0.4

(1.1)

Macy's Inc.

$20,786.0

$20,145.0

3.2

3.1

Ross Stores Inc.

$7,773.0

$6,976.0

11.0

7.0

Stein Mart Inc.

$958.5

$934.3

2.6

2.0

Target Corp.

$55,773.0

$53,720.0

3.8

3.2

The TJX Companies Inc.

$20,300.0

$18,500.0

10.0

7.0

a. Reporting periods vary among retailers.

b. Costco’s November comp results are for the U.S. division and do not include the positive impact of inflation on gasoline prices and from stronger foreign currencies. Including those impacts, comps for the month were up 6.0% in the U.S. division, 7.0% in the international division, and 6.0% for the total company.

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