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Weather slows down chain sales

Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, July 12, 2004

Unseasonably cool weather around much of the country had a chilling effect on sales of seasonal apparel and weather-related items like air conditioners, putting downward pressure on sales across a broad swath of American retailing during June.

But while the weather triggered lower-than-expected sales at many retailers, including players like Wal-Mart and Target, which can usually ride out any storm, it couldn't keep shoppers away from a handful of red-hot players, most notably at the top and — luxury retailers and warehouse clubs.

Among the biggest winners during June were the nation's no-frills warehouse clubs, where the stand-out was BJ's, which pushed same-store sales up 7.4 percent. Pushing its comps up 6.4 percent, Sam's Club easily beat out its bigger sibling, Wal-Mart Stores, where same-store sales eked out a meager gain of 1.3 percent. And Target Stores was held to a 2.2 percent increase, way behind the 7.6 percent increase in same-store sales at its Marshall Field's division, which is in the process of being sold off.

At the other end of the spectrum, top-tier retailers, helped by stronger fashion assortments, drove same-store sales sharply higher. Saks Fifth Avenue drove its comps up 18.8 percent, well ahead of the Saks department store group, where sales edged up 2.5 percent. Same-store sales at Neiman-Marcus rose 13 percent, and 5.7 percent at Nordstrom.

Among main-stream retailers, Penney was a standout with a 4.8 percent sales increase in its department stores, offsetting a 3.4 percent drop in catalog and Internet sales, which were punished by merchandise stock-outs following strong sales earlier in the season. With sales forecast to grow in the low single digits during July, and margins gaining strength, Penney said it's now upping its earnings forecast for the second quarter. The retailer said it expects to record a profit of 9 to 13 cents a share, compared a loss of 3 cents per share in last year's second quarter.

Among department store retailers, Federated's same-store sales improved 3.4 percent; May was up 1.9 percent; and Dillard's was off 1 percent.

Still tearing down the turn-around trail at a blazing pace, Stein Mart pushed same-store sales up 12.5 percent, recovering from a year-before drop of 4.9 percent.

Among the hardest hit were Kohl's, where same-store sales fell 3.7 percent; The Bon-Ton Stores, down 3.8 percent after the buyout of struggling Elder-Beerman; Pier 1 Imports, off 4.3 percent; and Sears, down 3.1 percent.

Though home fashions suppliers have been singing the blues for the past two months or so, a handful of retailers reported that home sales were hot spots during June. While sales dropped off at Sears, the company reported that its off-mall formats collectively reported growth for the month, led by The Great Indoors. Saks Department Group singled out home as one of its strongest performers, along with men's furnishings and cosmetics.

Dillard's stated that "sales of home merchandise significantly exceeded the company's average sales performance." And while sales were generally soft at The Bon-Ton, James Baireuther, vice chairman, said, "Home, cosmetics and accessories had sales increases for the month." BJ's, the Northeast warehouse club operator, included domestics among its strongest-selling categories, along with baby food, beer and health and beauty aids.

CLUBS ARE HOT

Company % chg.
BJ's 7.4%
Sam's 6.4
Costco 6.0


DISCOUNTERS COME IN LIGHT

Company % chg.
Retail Ventures -4.4%
Family Dollar 0.9
Wal-Mart Stores 1.3
Target Stores 2.2
Shopko 2.2


DEPARTMENT STORES A MIXED BAG

Company % chg.
Marshall Field's 7.6%
JC Penney Stores 4.8
Federated 3.4
May 1.9
Sears -3.1
Kohl's -3.7


June sales for major retailers
total chain sales, including all merchandise departments, for five weeks ending 07/03/04a
sales in $millions

Company 2004 sales 2003 sales Total % change Same-store% change
BJ's Wholesale Club $731.0 $657.0 11.3 7.4
The Bon-Ton Stores $113.9 $63.2 80.3 (3.8)
Costco $4,640.0 $4,280.0 8.4 6.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $630.3 $635.7 (0.8) (0.8)
Dollar General $715.6 $649.7 10.1 2.3
Family Dollar $521.9 $474.5 10.0 0.9
Federated $1,382.0 $1,336.0 3.4 3.4
Gottschalks $60.7 $59.9 1.5 3.3
Hancock Fabrics $33.7 $35.9 (6.1) 6.6
JCPenney $1,455.0 $1,405.0 3.6 NA
Dept. stores $1,257.0 $1,200.0 4.8 4.8
Catalog/e-commerce $198.0 $205.0 (3.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores $146.0 $136.4 7.0 6.8
Kohl's Corp. $909.6 $828.7 9.8 (3.7)
May Dept. Stores $1,160.0 $1,132.0 2.5 1.9
Pier 1 Imports $172.9 $165.5 4.5 (4.3)
Retail Ventures $240.6 $237.1 1.5 (4.4)
Value City Department Stores $123.6 $134.0 (7.7) (4.4)
Ross Stores $381.0 $367.0 3.8 (4.0)
Saks Inc. $520.2 $473.2 9.9 8.5
Dept. stores $292.3 $284.6 2.7 2.0
Sears U.S. sales $2,548.7 $2,664.9 (4.4) (3.1)
ShopKo $301.2 $295.9 1.8 2.2
ShopKo stores $220.2 NA 2.4 2.8
Pamida $81.0 NA 0.1 0.6
Stein Mart $124.0 $114.9 7.9 12.5
Target Corp. $4,471.0 $4,135.0 8.1 2.3
Target $3,888.0 NA 8.7 2.2
Mervyn's $285.0 NA 0.8 0.2
Marshall Field's $243.0 NA 7.6 7.6
TJX Cos. $1,300.0 $1,200.0 10.0 2.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $26,972.0 $24,669.0 9.3 2.2
Wal-Mart stores $18,111.0 $16,730.0 8.3 1.3
Sam's Club $3,645.0 $3,380.0 7.8 6.4
22 weeks to date
BJ's Wholesale Club $2,918.4 $2,589.4 12.7 7.8
The Bon-Ton Stores $474.1 $255.4 85.7 (1.5)
Costco $39,790.0 $34,950.0 14.0 11.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $2,996.1 $2,986.3 0.3 0.3
Dollar General $3,000.0 $2,700.0 11.2 3.1
Family Dollarb $4,479.6 $4,016.2 11.5 2.1
Federated $6,069.0 $5,763.0 5.3 5.3
Gottschalks $250.9 $250.6 0.1 2.0
Hancock Fabrics $166.8 $174.3 (4.3) (4.9)
JCPenney $6,710.0 $6,251.0 7.3 NA
JCPenney stores $5,708.0 $5,280.0 8.1 8.4
Catalog/e-commerce $1,002.0 $971.0 3.2 NA
Jo-Ann Stores $661.8 $619.7 6.8 5.8
Kohl's Corp. $4,105.6 $3,625.4 13.2 0.1
May Dept. Stores $5,100.7 $5,009.6 1.8 0.7
Pier 1 Imports $605.0 $568.2 6.5 (2.5)
Retail Ventures $1,107.3 $1,028.5 1.1 1.8
Value City Department Stores $567.3 $585.6 (3.1) (3.1)
Ross Stores $1,691.0 $1,542.0 9.7 1.0
Saks Inc. $2,479.8 $2,235.5 10.9 9.7
Dept. stores $1,396.0 $1,321.7 5.6 4.8
Sears U.S. sales $10,678.3 $10,990.3 (2.8) (1.6)
ShopKo $1,288.1 NA 3.2 3.4
ShopKo stores $957.9 NA 3.6 3.7
Pamida $330.2 NA 2.2 2.6
Stein Mart $603.4 $553.6 9.0 11.8
Target Corp. $19,264.0 NA 11.2 5.2
Target $16,754.0 NA 12.7 5.8
Mervyn's $1,264.0 NA (1.4) (2.0)
Marshall Field's $1,025.0 NA 4.6 5.5
TJX Cos. $5,800.0 $5,000.0 15.0 6.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $114,455.0 $101,928.0 12.3 4.1
Wal-Mart stores $76,829.0 $69,209.0 11.0 4.1
Sam's Clubs $15,379.0 $13,995.0 9.9 8.4
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: for the 44 weeks ended July 3.


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