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U.S. retailers claim Dec. sales don't compare

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, January 14, 2002

Most retailers were pleased with how December ended, which for some resulted in better-than-expected sales, with overall U.S. retail chain sales increasing 2.5 percent for December.

The season for most looked even healthier when combined with November sales, which several retailers believe is a more accurate way to report performance. The shift in the retail calendar resulted in fewer shopping days for Christmas compared with last year, and some said that reporting on December alone wasn't precise.

Under the National Retail Federation's 4-5-4 retail calendar, this year's December results do not include the week following Thanksgiving, making December 2001 sales look anemic compared to December 2000, with its extra week of sales.

But most were happy with the outcome anyway. "As anticipated, the month of December and the holiday season were challenging due to the continued weak economy," said Alan Lacy, chairman, Sears. "We were pleased, though, that our December sales results were at the upper end of our expectations."

Always a strong performer, Kohl's comp-store sales were 9.8 percent for both November and December, compared to December's 0.6 percent increase alone. Nevertheless, "We are very pleased with our results for the holiday season," said Larry Montgomery, ceo. "In a challenging retail environment, we continue to increase market share."

Other retailers with adjusted numbers included Federated's department stores, a negative 5.4 percent for November-December vs. a negative 8.7 percent for December; Saks, 3.5 percent for SDSG (Saks Department Store Group) and 1.9 percent for total company vs. decreases of 7.5 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively; and Gottschalks, a 0.2 percent decrease vs. a 4.5 percent decrease.

In addition, Dillards' November/December comp-store sales slid 2 percent compared to December's 4 percent drop. At ShopKo, the combined month's drew a 0.4 percent decrease, compared to the December 5.0 percent decline. Elder-Beerman, which had a December comp-store sales decrease of 7.5 percent, reported November and December comp sales declines of 4.1 percent.

Target Corp. also readjusted its numbers, comparing five weeks ended Jan. 5 to five weeks ended Jan. 6, 2001. This resulted in the Target division showing a 10.1 percent loss instead of a 1.8 percent increase; Mervyn's with a 6.1 increase instead of a 0.6 percent decrease; and Marshall Field's with a 2.3 percent decrease instead of a 10 percent decrease, for an overall company performance of 8.6 percent instead of 0.6 percent.

"Sales for the corporation were above plan in December, primarily due to exceptional strength at Target Stores," said Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo, Target Corp.

Kmart, with a 1 percent decline in December comp-sales, said that it was continuing to review its current and prospective liquidity position and business plan for 2002 and 2003 fiscal years, and is in discussions with its lenders regarding its existing and possible supplemental financing facilities.

Wal-Mart Stores, which did not adjust its figures to factor in the calendar shift, reported a 16.2% increase over last year on sales for the five-week period ending Jan. 4, 2002.

At JCPenney, December sales benefited from improved merchandise assortments and enhanced marketing events, the company said. It added that catalog and e-commerce sales decreased as expected, with catalog sales reflecting the elimination of catalog participation in retail promotional events as well as the impact of a promotional retail environment.

Federated's James Zimmerman, chairman and ceo, was satisfied with the company's sales performance. It's sales performance, an 8.7% decline in December sales, "was driven in part by markdowns."

Hancock Fabrics led the group with its 17.8 percent comp store increase.

At Sears, Lacy said that home fashions business in softlines continued its strong momentum. At JCPenney, it was the best merchandise category, with a double-digit increase for December.

However, at Saks' SDSG, soft home showed softer sales performances for the month. Family Dollar saw an increase of 3.5 percent in softlines for the period.

Pier 1's Marvin Girouard, chairman and ceo, said, "We were very pleased with December sales, increased traffic, and the slight increase in average ticket."

The top and the bottom

TOP 3
STORE % chg.
Hancock Fabrics 17.8
Jo-Ann Stores 11.0
TJX Cos. 10.0
BOTTOM 3
STORE % chg.
Marshall Field's -10.0
May Dept. Stores -8.9
Federated's dept. stores -8.6


December sales for major retailers
Period ending 1/5/02a(sales in $000s)

Company 2001 sales 2000 sales Total % change Same-store % change
( ): Denotes decline
a: Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b: Will not report numbers until reemerges from Chapter 11
c: Because of the calendar shift, several retailers either noted or gave adjusted numbers, grouping November and December sales together for a more accurate financial picture. These are December sales numbers only.
e: For the period ending Jan. 4.
f: For the period ending Dec. 30
g: For the period ending Dec. 29.
h: For the period ending Jan. 2.
i: Excludes sales of stores that have been closed and not replaced.
Ames b NA NA NA NA
Costco d $4,270.0 $3,780.0 13.0% 7.0%
Dillard Dept. Stores c 1,368.4 1,417.1 (3.4) (4.0)
Dollar General e 725.5 644.4 12.6 8.9
Elder-Beerman c 119.0 125.3 (5.0) (7.5)
Family Dollar 531.4 449.1 18.3 8.3
Federated c 3,004.0 3,291.0 (8.7) NA
Dept. stores 2,795.0 3,031.0 (7.8) (8.6)
Fingerhut 0.2 0.3 (19.6) NA
Gottschalks c 133.1 143.4 (7.2) (4.5)
Hancock Fabrics f 45.5 38.9 17.0 17.8
JCPenney cg 4,628.0 4,607.0 0.5 NA
Dept. stores 2,646.0 2,558.0 3.4 5.4
Catalog/e-commerce 465.0 582.0 (20.1) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 206.0 211.4 (2.6) 11.0
Kmart h 5,524.0 5,539.0 (0.3) (1.0)
Kohl's Corp. c 1,364.4 1,176.4 16.0 0.6
May Dept. Stores c 2,661.4 2,839.5 (6.3) (8.9)
Pier 1 Imports 259.6 219.9 18.1 9.3
Ross Stores 384.0 323.0 18.9 9.0
Saks Inc. c 947.8 1,063.4 (10.9) (7.2)
Dept. stores 618.2 705.1 (12.3) (7.5)
Sears U.S. sales g 4,184.1 4,251.5 (1.6) (2.4)
ShopKo cl 479.7 NA (5.6) (5.0)
Shopko stores 371.2 NA 4.7 4.8
Pamida 108.5 NA (8.6) (5.9)
Target Corp. c 6,550.0 NA 7.5 0.6
Target 5,399.0 NA 10.3 1.8
Mervyn's 639.0 NA (1.3) (0.6)
Marshall Field's 442.0 NA (10.0) (10.0)
TJX Cos. 1,456.0 1,207.0 20.6 10.0
Value City 288.5 303.8 (5.0) 3.5
Value City Dept. stores 199.7 222.6 (10.3) 3.6
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. e 28,844.0 24,817.0 16.2 8.0
Wal-Mart stores 18,134.0 15,556.0 16.6 8.2
Sam's Club 3,651.0 3,243.0 12.6 7.1
48 weeks to date
Ames b NA NA NA NA
Costco d NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $7,655.7 $7,958.1 (3.8%) (4.0%)
Dollar General e 4,900.0 4,100.0 19.5 7.3
Elder-Beerman 616.6 624.4 (1.2) (3.5)
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated 16,060.0 17,299.0 (7.2) NA
Dept. stores 14,878.0 15,617.0 (4.7) (5.1)
Fingerhut 1.2 1.7 (29.7) NA
Gottschalks 675.3 617.1 9.4 0.6
Hancock Fabrics f 371.1 357.6 3.8 5.3
JCPenney g 29,866.0 29,737.0 0.4 NA
JCPenney stores 13,967.0 13,777.0 1.4 3.1
Catalog/e-commerce 3,137.0 3,893.0 (19.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores 1,458.6 1,358.2 7.4 5.5
Kmart h 34,091.0 34,444.0 (1.0) 0.0
Kohl's Corp. 7,104.6 5,780.7 22.9 6.6
May Dept. Stores 13,528.9 13,632.9 (0.8) (4.3)
Pier 1 Imports 1,329.6 1,200.9 10.7 3.6
Ross Stores 2,804.0 2,520.0 11.3 2.0
Saks Inc. 5,692.2 6,112.1 (6.9) (4.8)
Dept. stores 3,417.6 3,664.6 (6.7) (2.6)
Sears U.S. sales g 27,824.4 28,359.5 (1.9) (2.5)
ShopKo l 3,119.3 NA 1.9 (0.7)
Shopko stores 2,333.5 NA 0.6 0.0
Pamida 785.8 NA 6.1 (3.3)
Target Corp. 36,624.0 NA 9.2 2.5
Target 29,992.0 NA 12.4 3.9
Mervyn's 3,673.0 NA (1.9) (1.4)
Marshall Field's 2,569.0 NA (5.7) (5.7)
TJX Cos. 10,100.0 9,041.0 11.7 3.0
Value City 2,169.3 2,039.0 6.4 (2.3)
Value City Dept. stores 1,411.6 1,440.0 (2.0) (3.5)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. e 203,661.0 178,880.0 13.9 5.9
Wal-Mart stores 129,352.0 113,537.0 13.9 5.9
Sam's Club 27,257.0 24,819.0 9.8 5.9


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