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  • Andrea Lillo

Retail sales rise with help from Easter

Spring seemed to start off on the right foot for most retailers, with March sales positively impacted by the inclusion of the Easter holiday this year resulting in same-store sales gains of 5.3 percent.

However, most noted that the shift will be negatively reflected in April, and many retailers projected those numbers will be more conservative.

The front-runners for the month included several discounters and discount department stores, as well as Pier 1 Imports, Kohl's and Family Dollar.

Ross Stores led the way in comp-store sales increases at 11.0 percent, its third consecutive month of double-digit comp increases. The Newark, CA-based company also saw a strong 21.0 percent increase in total sales.

Retailing giant Wal-Mart also performed well for the month, including 10.7 percent comp-store increases in its Wal-Mart stores division, which also gained 17.0 percent over last year's total sales. The total corporation saw comp gains of 9.5 percent.

At Target Corp., the Easter shift accelerated sales as expected, the company said, although it had more of an impact on the Target division than on Mervyn's or Marshall Field's.

The Target division had above-plan comp-store sales, with a 9.4 percent gain. Mervyn's and Marshall Fields, however, fell below plan, with 2.0 percent and 6.7 percent decreases, respectively.

"Sales for the corporation were above plan in March, due to the continued strong sales momentum at Target Stores," said Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo.

In addition, the home category was one of the strongest performers for Marshall Field's, while it was one of the softest at Mervyn's.

The TJX Companies had its sixth consecutive month of achieving above-plan sales, with a 10.0 percent same-store increase for the entire company. The MarMaxx group, which includes T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, had comp-store sales growth of 10.0 percent, as well as a 15.0 percent gain in the home fashions area on a comp-store basis.

TJX's other divisions also performed above plan, including Winners, with 6.0 percent comp-store growth; HomeGoods, with 11.0 percent; T.K. Maxx, at 8.0 percent; and, significantly ahead of plan, A.J. Wright, with a 27.0 percent increase.

The other leaders in comp-store sales gains included Pier 1 Imports, with 10.3 percent, Stein Mart, with 9.3 percent, and Kohl's, with 9.1 percent.

Department store retailer JCPenney saw same-store sales increase 6.8 percent this month, and home followed children's apparel as the best performing merchandise category.

At Sears, the Easter holiday helped the softlines categories of apparel and footwear, though it didn't offset declines experienced earlier in the month. In addition, Alan Lacy, chairman and ceo, said the merchandise exits in installed floor coverings and custom window treatments contributed to the sales decline in softlines.

Federated achieved its expectations for March because of the Easter holiday shift, though James Zimmerman, chairman and ceo, added that April same-store sales are projected to decline 4.0 percent to 5.0 percent.

Similarly, Saks Inc. expected April comp-store sales to decline in the mid single digits because of the shift of Easter.

May Department Stores, however, said it was adversely affected by the shift in a major sales promotion from late March 2001 to the first week of April 2002.

Gottschalks experienced traditionally lower sales the week after Easter, said Jim Famalette, president and ceo.

TOP 3
Company % chg.
Ross Stores 11.0%
Wal-Mart stores div. 10.7
Family Dollar/Pier 1 10.3
BOTTOM 3
Company % chg.
May Dept. Stores -6.9%
Marshall Field's -6.7
Elder-Beerman -6.4


March sales for major retailers (period ending 4/6/02)a
(sales in $000s)

Company 2002 sales 2001 sales Total % change Same-store % change
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: Will not report numbers until emerges from Chapter 11.
c: For the period ending April 7.
d: For the period ending April 5.
e: For the period ending March 30.
f: Includes sales of stores that have been closed and not replaced.
g: Pier 1's fiscal year ended March 2, so year-to-date numbers are for the five-week period.
Amesb NA NA NA NA
Costcoc $3,460.0 $3,080.0 12.3% 8.0%
Dillard Dept. Stores 763.4 720.4 6.0 5.0
Dollar Generald 533.7 461.3 15.7 6.9
Elder-Beerman 53.0 54.3 (2.4) (6.4)
Family Dollar 390.6 326.0 19.8 10.3
Federated Dept. Stores 1,311.0 1,315.0 (0.3) (0.2)
Gottschalks 59.2 64.1 (7.6) (5.0)
Hancock Fabricsc 40.5 37.7 7.4 7.9
JCPenneye 2,966.0 2,866.0 3.5 NA
Dept. stores 1,252.0 1,206.0 3.8 6.8
Catalog/e-commerce 275.0 355.0 (22.5) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 145.5 135.0 7.8 8.3
Kmartb NA NA NA NA
Kohl's Corp. 750.5 609.0 23.2 9.1
May Dept. Stores 1,187.9 1,228.8 (3.3) (6.9)
Pier 1 Imports 145.5 122.9 18.4 10.3
Ross Stores 329.0 272.0 21.0 11.0
Saks Inc. 542.4 544.8 (0.4) 2.4
Dept. stores 311.1 306.2 1.6 3.2
Sears U.S. sales 2517.0 2562.6 (1.8) (4.7)
ShopKof 293.2 295.9 (0.9) NA
Shopko stores 225.4 NA (0.8) NA
Pamida 67.8 NA (1.2) (0.2)
Stein Mart 146.6 NA 21.3 9.3
Target Corp. 3,721.0 3,203.0 16.2 6.8
Target 3,125.0 NA 20.8 9.4
Mervyn's 323.0 NA (1.9) (2.0)
Marshall Field's 244.0 NA (6.7) (6.7)
TJX Cos. 1,059.0 890.0 19.0 10.0
Value City 237.0 207.1 14.4 3.6
Value City Dept. stores 149.6 137.1 9.1 3.5
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.d 21,489.0 18,770.0 14.5 9.5
Wal-Mart stores 13,947.0 11,921.0 17.0 10.7
Sam's Club 2,879.0 2,587.0 11.3 4.1
9 weeks to date
Amesb NA NA NA NA
Costcoc NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $1,362.5 $1,344.2 1.4% 1.0%
Dollar Generald NA NA NA NA
Elder-Beerman 95.0 93.9 1.2 (2.9)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated 2,359.0 2,394.0 (1.5) (1.5)
Gottschalks 104.0 109.3 (4.8) (2.3)
Hancock Fabricsc 74.0 69.2 6.9 7.2
JCPenneye 5,262.0 5,086.0 3.5 NA
JCPenney stores 2,192.0 2,064.0 6.2 9.2
Catalog/e-commerce 471.0 630.0 (25.2) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 255.2 231.1 10.4 11.0
Kmartb NA NA NA NA
Kohl's Corp. 1,191.6 943.5 26.3 11.1
May Dept. Stores 2,127.0 2,159.3 (1.5) (5.1)
Pier 1 Importsg 145.5 122.9 18.4 10.3
Ross Stores 556.0 453.0 22.7 12.0
Saks Inc. 925.2 958.9 (3.5) 0.3
Dept. stores 533.9 545.1 (2.1) 1.0
Sears U.S. sales 4461.2 4530.9 (1.5) (4.0)
ShopKof 511.8 NA (5.9) NA
Shopko stores 390.6 NA (6.9) NA
Pamida 121.2 NA (2.2) (1.2)
Stein Mart 244.2 NA 15.3 4.1
Target Corp. 6,474.0 NA 16.4 7.5
Target 5,432.0 NA 20.3 9.7
Mervyn's 564.0 NA 0.0 (0.1)
Marshall Field's 420.0 NA (4.0) (4.0)
TJX Cos. 1,811.0 1,537.0 17.8 9.0
Value City 393.2 347.0 13.3 2.8
Value City Dept. stores 250.0 230.1 8.6 2.6
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.d 38,696.0 33,655.0 15.0 9.8
Wal-Mart stores 25,053.0 21,289.0 17.7 10.9
Sam's Clubs 5,123.0 4,578.0 11.9 4.9


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