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Retail Doldrums Crimp Comps

Nicole Crews, Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, September 4, 2006

Even back to school and the start of the cool-weather clothing season couldn't do much to drive consumers into the malls during August. Same-store retail sales remained spotty, with the Johnson Redbook monthly Flash Report showing a 2.9% gain, lagging a 3.7% increase in July and a 3.1% gain in June.

Indeed, the August Flash Report, which tracks results of 57 retailers, recorded the smallest gain since a mingy 1.9% increase in March. Illustrating the breadth of the current retail doldrums, almost a third of the sample, 18 of the 57 retail companies, recorded declines during August, while 39 posted positive comps.

In a virtual mirror image of that broader sample, somewhat more than a third, 9 of the 22 home fashions retailers tracked monthly by Home Textiles Today, recorded declines, with 13 stores posting gains.

Hit hard by rising gas prices and the bite it puts on their low-income core customer, the nation's mass merchants hit another speed bump in August. Target's sales rose a modest 2.8%, behind a 3.1% increase during July and well off its customary pace of rapid growth. Wal-Mart's U.S. stores recorded a 2.5% gain, somewhat ahead of a 2.3% increase the preceding month.

A clear big winner in the moderate price channel was Kohl's, which pushed its same-store sales up by 5.2% — but even Kohl's couldn't match its 5.9% increase the prior month.

Results were mixed, but broadly soft, in the department-store channel, with Federated coming out on top with a 3.8% gain, besting last month's increase of 3.3%. In a surprisingly soft finish, JCPenney department stores recorded a 0.5% drop, losing ground after a 4.9% increase in July. Bon-Ton comps dropped 5.7% following a 12.2% gain in July.

While Saks Fifth Ave. posted a strong 5.0% gain in August over 3.4% in July, Saks' remaining department stores saw up a 2.0% drop, weakening from July's 1.0% gain. And Dillard's remained in the loss column with a 1.0% drop, even though it improved on the prior month's even deeper slide of 2.9%.

Winners and losers

Winners
Costco 7.0%
Fred's 6.8
Kohl's 5.2
Saks Fifth Ave. 5.0
TJX 4.0
Losers
Pier 1 -9.1%
Hancock Fabrics -7.7
Jo-Ann Stores -6.4
Bon-Ton -5.7
Stein Mart -2.8


August sales for kety retailers
Four weeks ended August 26a(dollar amounts in millions)

2006 sales 2005 sales Total % chg. Same-store % chg.
a. Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b. Includes results of acquired nameplates, including Bergner's, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers.
c. Includes results of May Department Stores.
d. Lower sales reflect the sale of some department store nameplates.
e. For the 52 weeks year-to-date of the company's 53-week fiscal year.
f. For the six months year-to-date of the retailer's fiscal year.
g. For the 52 weeks of the company's fiscal year.
BJ's Wholesale Club $624.7 $598.3 4.4 2.3
The Bon-Ton Stores b $225.0 $85.1 164.4 (5.7)
Costco $4,550.0 $40,800.0 11.5 7.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $557.3 $566.1 (1.6) (1.0)
Dollar General $687.2 $624.0 10.1 4.8
Family Dollar $484.1 $444.2 9.0 4.0
Federated c $1,727.0 $1,068.0 61.6 3.8
Fred's $124.4 $111.0 12.1 6.8
Gottschalks $47.4 $49.6 (4.6) (1.4)
Hancock Fabrics $25.8 $29.3 (11.9) (7.7)
JCPenney $1,581.0 $1,570.0 0.7 N.A
Dept. stores $1,386.0 $1,376.0 0.7 (0.5)
Catalog/e-commerce $195.0 $194.0 0.5 N.A
Jo-Ann Stores $119.9 $123.5 (2.9) (6.4)
Kohl's Corp. $1,139.3 $1,007.5 13.1 5.2
Pier 1 Imports $114.3 $124.0 (7.8) (9.1)
Ross Stores $425.0 $388.0 9.5 3.0
Saks Inc. d $227.5 $358.4 (36.5) 3.3
Saks Fifth Avenue Stores $174.0 $169.1 2.9 5.0
Dept. stores d $53.5 $189.3 (71.7) (2.0)
Stein Mart $95.7 $98.1 (2.5) (2.8)
Target Corp. $4,218.0 $3,862.0 9.2 2.8
TJX Cos. $1,300.0 $1,200.0 9.0 4.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $25,965.0 $23,072.0 12.5 2.7
Wal-Mart Stores $16,980.0 $15,709.0 8.1 2.5
Sam's Club $3,130.0 $3,003.0 4.2 3.4
30 WEEKS YEAR-TO-DATE
BJ's Wholesale Club 4,598.3 4,348.7 5.7 1.9
The Bon-Ton Stores 1,533.5 622.0 143.7 146.5
Costco e $5,778.0 $5,186.0 11.4 8.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $4,083.5 $4,063.4 0.5 1.0
Dollar General $5,100.0 $4,700.0 8.6 2.5
Family Dollar g $6,934.8 N.A 9.8 3.7
Federated c $13,652.0 $8,332.0 63.8 2.4
Fred's $948.2 $867.1 9.4 2.6
Gottschalks $344.4 $345.3 (0.3) (0.1)
Hancock Fabrics $205.4 $210.4 (2.4) (1.3)
JCPenney $10,039.0 $9,669.0 3.8 N.A
JCPenney stores $8,552.0 $8,225.0 4.0 3.2
Catalog/e-commerce $1,487.0 $1,444.0 3.0 N.A
Jo-Ann Stores $907.8 $928.0 (2.2) (6.1)
Kohl's Corp. $7,615.5 $6,638.4 14.7 6.0
Pier 1 Imports f $746.8 $814.0 (8.3) (10.9)
Ross Stores $3,025.0 $2,684.0 12.7 5.0
Saks Inc. d $2,013.3 $3,203.8 (37.2) 0.4
Saks Fifth Avenue Stores $1,425.9 $1,452.4 (1.8) 0.9
Dept. stores d $587.4 $1,751.4 (66.5) (0.8)
Stein Mart $796.8 $815.8 (2.3) (3.1)
Target Corp. $29,671.0 N.A 11.1 4.6
TJX Cos. $9,200.0 $8,500.0 8.0 3.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $190,903.0 $170,141.0 12.2 2.7
Wal-Mart stores $125,362.0 $115,542.0 8.5 2.6
Sam's Clubs $23,486.0 $22,225.0 5.7 3.4


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