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November mostly a drag for comps

Retail Editor 4 -- Home Textiles Today, November 29, 2012

New York - Although the retail month of November included Black Friday and two additional shopping days after, the last-minute boost wasn't enough to overcome slack comp performance for many retailers.

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.

Those reporting positive comps included:

  • Stein Mart Inc.: +7.1%. Positive comps were led by linens, men's furnishings and ladies' career sportswear;
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.: +6.0%. Soft lines (which at Costco includes apparel and small appliances as well as domestics) has a positive comp in the mid to high single digit range, but linens were not cited among the top performers during the month;
  • TJX Companies: +3.0%. Comps were above plan for the month, driven by customer traffic;
  • Ross Stores: +2.0%. Results were above plan.

Those reporting negative comps included:

  • Kohl's Corp.: -5.6%. The company reported a significant shift in Black Friday-related sales into e-commerce;
  • Fred's Inc.: -3.6%. Layaway sales in November climbed to record levels, but those sales will not recognized for accounting purposes until final payments are made;
  • Alco Stores: -1.7%. Domestics was one of the key performers ahead of the holiday, along with toys, electronics, housewares, stationery and Christmas;
  • Target Corp.: -1.0%. November sales were below expectations, with weaker-than-planned sales in the first two weeks;
  • Macy's Inc.: -0.7%. Disruption from Hurricane Sandy got the month off to a slow start.
  • The Bon-Ton Stores: -0.1%. Sales showed momentum in the second half of the month after experiencing a negative impact from Hurricane Sandy earlier in November.

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