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Cost Plus reports holiday results

Oakland, Calif. – Cost Plus reported sales slipped 1.8% to $261.1 million during the nine-week holiday selling period that ended Jan. 2.

Same store sales rose 0.3%, an improvement over a 6.6% decrease for the same period in 2008. Traffic was up 4.8% while average ticket fell 4.3%.

November climbed 5.7% to $91.0 million, with comps up 4.9% compared to a 10.8% decrease for the same period in 2008.

December sales slipped 4.2% to $170.1 million, and same-store sales decreased 2.0% compared to a 4.3% decrease a year ago.

Customer count increased 10.8% in November and 1.9% in December compared to last year, and average ticket decreased 5.4% in November and 3.9% in December compared to last year.

While expressing disappointment in December’s comp performance, president and ceo Barry Feld noted: “We achieved a 91% sell-through of our holiday merchandise at the end of December with higher margins than last year. Our inventory is clean and we are well positioned to enter the new fiscal year with fresh value-priced merchandise.”

At the end of fiscal December 2009, Cost Plus had $36.7 million in borrowings and $12.0 million in letters of credit outstanding under its asset-based credit facility compared to $37.3 million in borrowings and $13.9 million in letters credit at the end of the same period last year.

“Our solid holiday sales performance enabled us to substantially pay down our credit line leaving sufficient capacity under the $200 million asset-based credit facility to meet working capital needs for the upcoming fiscal year,” said Feld. “Additionally, we expect to receive a tax refund of approximately $13 million in the first quarter of 2010, further improving our liquidity position.”



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