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Warm temps freeze Oct. chain sales

Andrea Lillo, Maria Weiskott -- Home Textiles Today, November 10, 2003

Retailers blamed warm weather for poor sales results during October, along with the wildfires, for companies with California locations.

Even Kohl's saw disappointing comparable store sales, which slipped 11.6 percent during the month.

However, the wholesale clubs comfortably led the retail chains in comp store increases, with Costco jumping 11 percent, BJ's 10.2 percent and Sam's Club up 7 percent.

"Unseasonably warm weather in most of the country during October slowed demand for seasonal items and contributed to a disappointing month across our apparel categories," said Sears chairman and ceo Alan Lacy.

Wal-Mart Stores' total sales grew 11.8 percent to $19.066 billion. The Wal-Mart Stores division saw its sales climb 10.7 percent to $11.492 billion and Sam's Club sales were up 9.7 percent to $2.404 billion. Its international division was also up, with a strong 17.6 percent increase to $3.709 billion for the month.

Kohl's decline in same stores sales reversed a strong 18.3 percent increase last year, according to Larry Montgomery, ceo.

"The strong increase last year was driven by significant increases in seasonal classifications. These classifications experienced significant declines this year," he explained. "We did take deeper markdowns in the quarter in woman's apparel to be appropriately positioned for the holiday season.

As a result of these markdowns and the disappointing comparable store sales performance, third quarter earnings are expected to be approximately $0.35 per share. Our inventory is well positioned going into the fourth quarter."

Sears, which saw its comp store sales slip 2.7 percent for October, also had mid-single digit declines in its home fashions and household goods category. The Great Indoors dropped in the low teens.

At JCPenney, the home area was the best performing category for the month, with particularly strong results, the company said.

Catalog/Internet sales increased 0.4 percent, while the company overall had a slight decrease of total sales of 0.9 percent. Department stores reported a comp store sales decline of 2.3 percent.

TJX's numbers fell within its anticipated range, since it planned conservatively against strong results last year, it said. The MarMaxx group had a comp sales drop of four percent, and its home fashions segment decreased six percent, compared to a 16 percent increase last year. HomeSense and Winners in Canada jumped 24 percent for the month, as did T.K. Maxx, by 16 percent, and A.J. Wright, by seven percent. The HomeGoods division was flat.

"With inventories in great shape, we will be offering a constant flow of great gift items throughout the holiday season," said Ted English, president and ceo, TJX.

Target Corp.'s October sales fell below plan, reflecting the "exceptionally weak sales at both Mervyn's and Marshall Field's," said Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo. Mervyn's reported a comp sales decline of 15.1 percent, while Marshall Field's saw a 10.5 percent dip in comp sales. Home was one of Mervyn's strongest performers for the month, however. The Target division was on target, with a 4.5 percent comp store increase.

Stein Mart saw both total and comp store sales decline by more than seven percent.

"As anticipated, our move away from full-price coupon distribution continued to disadvantage our traffic flow and comparable sales in October," said Michael Fisher, president and ceo.

For Ross Stores, total sales grew eight percent while comp store sales fell two percent. "Where weather trends were more normal along with entire eastern seaboard and in Hawaii, sales performed in line with expectations," said John Call, senior vp and cfo. "In addition, we saw continued strength in the less weather-sensitive categories of home, shoes and accessories, all of which posted high single to low double digit comparable store sales gains during the month."

The home area at Dillard's was one of the categories that performed below company average for the month.

TOP 3
Company % chg.
Costco 11.0
BJ's Wholesale Club 10.2
Sam's Club 7.0
BOTTOM 3
Mervyn's -15.1
Kohl's -11.6
Marshall Field's -10.5


October 2003 sales for major retailers
Total chain sales, including all merchandise departments, for period ending 11/1/03a
sales in $millions

Company 2003 sales 2002 sales Total % change Same-store % change
BJ's Wholesale Club $506.1 $436.8 15.9 10.2
Costcob $3,420.0 $3,010.0 13.6 11.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $481.3 $509.3 (5.5) (5.0)
Dollar Generalc $531.9 $475.4 11.9 3.1
Family Dollar $378.4 $340.0 11.3 1.6
Federated $1,058.0 $1,081.0 (2.1) (2.0)
Gottschalks $44.9 $48.9 (8.2) (5.8)
Hancock Fabricsb $38.3 $38.9 (1.5) (1.4)
JCPenney $2,510.0 $2,532.0 (0.9) NA
Dept. stores $1,146.0 $1,192.0 (3.9) (2.3)
Catalog/e-commerce $238.0 $237.0 0.4 NA
Jo-Ann Stores $159.5 $159.1 0.3 1.1
Kohl's Corp.b $823.1 $799.7 2.9 (11.6)
May Dept. Storesd $887.2 $909.1 (2.4) (4.2)
Pier 1 Imports $142.9 $130.7 9.3 1.6
Retail Ventures $214.2 $202.9 5.6 0.9
Value City Dept. stores $113.3 $117.3 (3.4) (3.4)
Ross Stores $299.0 $278.0 7.6 (2.0)
Saks Inc. $464.1 $441.8 5.0 4.1
Dept. stores $270.2 $274.7 (1.6) (2.1)
Sears U.S. sales $1,896.2 $1,939.4 (2.2) (2.7)
ShopKo $235.5 $244.4 (3.6) (3.5)
ShopKo stores $176.1 NA (4.3) (4.3)
Pamida $59.4 NA (1.4) (0.8)
Stein Mart $98.6 $106.3 (7.2) (7.6)
Target Corp. $3,374.0 $3,126.0 7.9 1.6
Target $2,885.0 NA 10.7 4.5
Mervyn's $229.0 NA (13.9) (15.1)
Marshall Field's $204.0 NA (11.7) (10.5)
TJX Cos. $1,103.0 $1,034.0 6.7 (1.0)
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $19,066.0 $17,051.0 11.8 4.5
Wal-Mart stores $12,720.0 $11,492.0 10.7 4.0
Sam's Club $2,637.0 $2,404.0 9.7 7.0
39 weeks to date
BJ's Wholesale Club $4,691.5 $4,047.8 15.9 7.9
Costcob NA NA NA NA
Dillard Dept. Stores $5,299.9 $5,523.1 (4.0) (4.0)
Dollar Generalc $4,900.0 $4,300.0 14.0 4.3
Family Dollar NA NA NA NA
Federated $10,212.0 $10,418.0 (2.0) (2.0)
Gottschalks $438.5 $458.5 (4.4) (1.9)
Hancock Fabricsb $316.3 $309.7 2.1 2.4
JCPenney $22,791.0 $22,798.0 (0.0) NA
JCPenney stores $9,910.0 $10,099.0 (1.9) (0.4)
Catalog/e-commerce $1,814.0 $1,840.0 (1.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores $1,180.0 $1,160.0 1.7 3.1
Kohl's Corp.b $6,720.2 $5,935.8 13.2 (1.0)
May Dept. Storesd $8,848.9 $9,117.4 (2.9) (4.8)
Pier 1 Imports $1,142.1 $1,078.9 5.9 (2.5)
Retail Ventures $1,873.8 $1,772.0 5.7 0.9
Value City Dept. stores $1,054.8 $1,062.7 (0.7) (0.4)
Ross Stores $2,822.0 $2,567.0 9.9 0.0
Saks Inc. $4,055.9 $4,042.4 0.3 (0.3)
Dept. stores $2,403.9 $2,402.5 0.1 (0.9)
Sears U.S. sales $19,304.9 $19,632.1 (1.7) (2.3)
ShopKo $2,231.1 NA (2.2) (2.0)
ShopKo stores $1,657.8 NA (3.6) (3.6)
Pamida $573.3 NA 2.0 2.8
Stein Mart $950.0 $1,000.0 (5.0) (7.0)
Target Corp. $31,568.0 NA 8.9 1.9
Target $27,105.0 NA 11.2 3.5
Mervyn's $2,330.0 NA (8.3) (8.8)
Marshall Field's $1,699.0 NA (5.2) (4.1)
TJX Cos. $9,309.0 $8,562.0 8.7 1.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $182,312.0 $163,806.0 11.3 3.8
Wal-Mart stores $123,578.0 $111,719.0 10.6 3.7
Sam's Clubs $24,980.0 $22,979.0 8.7 4.6


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