February Chills Retail Sales

Don Hogsett, Staff Staff, March 12, 2007

In a soft and spotty start to the new retail fiscal year, severe winter weather kept consumers off the roads and away from the malls in many parts of the country during February, leaving key American retailers with a set of largely disappointing same-store numbers.

Indeed, a third of the stores tracked each month by Home Textiles Today reported a drop in comps.

Ditto the Johnson Redbook Flash Report, where somewhat more than a third, 36.7% of the 60 retailers tracked, recorded declining same-store sales. The Redbook report showed same-store sales for its 60-store sample up 2.6%, well behind the 3.9% gain in January.

"Sales in February were impacted by a series of snow and ice storms in the eastern half of the U.S., including those during the important selling days immediately preceding Valentine's Day," said Federated ceo Terry Lundgren.

Federated same-store sales grew a scant 1.2%, well behind the 4.4% gain put up in January. But it was more than storms that had a hobbling effect on Federated — beginning this month, the retailer includes same-store sales from the May Co. stores it acquired, along with its better performing Macy's and Bloomingdale's.

The strongest performers during the month were the carriage trade retailers, Saks and Nordstrom. Saks drove its comps up a stunning 24.7%, while Nordstrom drove same-store sales up by 9.1%.

Another big double-digit gain was put up by The Bon-Ton, with same-store sales jumping up by 14.6%.

Elsewhere the going got tougher. JCPenney, the middle-American bellwether, reported a modest 0.2% drop in same-store sales, reversing a solid 3.5% increase in January.

Setting Wall Street tongues a-wagging, Wal-Mart recorded a notably disappointing performance in its core discount stores, where same-store sales rose a skimpy 0.4%, well beneath an expected gain of 1.5%. Sam's Club, by contrast, drove same-store sales up a solid 3.9%.

With the notable exception of Wal-Mart, the month's biggest gainers were those luring dollar-conscious consumers through their doors — Target, up 5.7%; Costco, up 5.0%; and Dollar General, up 4.9%.

Winners and losers
Same-store sales % change

The Bon-Ton 14.6%
Target 5.7
Costco 5.0
Dollar General 4.9
Kohl's 4.4
Fred's 3.9
Sam's Club 3.9
Dillard's -9.0%
Pier 1 -8.4
Jo-Ann Stores -6.3
Gottschalks -3.6
Stein Mart -1.9
Family Dollar -0.5
JCPenney -0.2

Five weeks ended March 3a(dollar amounts in millions)

2007 sales 2006 sales Total % chg. Same-store % chg.
a. Reporting periods vary from store to store.
b. Including Carson's
c. Total sales were reduced by the closing of 78 duplicative stores following the May Department Stores acquisition. Beginning this month, and ongoing, Federated same-store sales include same-store sales of May stores, as well as Macy's and Bloomingdale's.
BJ's Wholesale Club $601.7 $561.2 7.2 3.0
The Bon-Ton Stores b $237.6 $72.2 229.1 14.6
Costco $4,600.0 $4,220.0 9.0 5.0
Dillard Dept. Stores $594.1 $644.3 (7.8) (9.0)
Dollar General $695.6 $645.4 7.8 4.9
Family Dollar $511.4 $496.1 3.1 (0.5)
Federated c $1,802.0 $1,800.0 0.0 1.2
Fred's $143.9 $133.4 7.9 3.9
Gottschalks $42.6 $44.3 (3.8) (3.6)
JCPenney $1,314.0 $1,302.0 0.9 NA
Dept. stores $1,110.0 $1,093.0 1.6 (0.2)
Catalog/e-commerce $204.0 $209.0 (2.4) NA
Jo-Ann Stores $158.0 $140.4 12.5 (6.3)
Kohl's Corp. $929.3 $823.7 12.8 4.4
Pier 1 Imports $120.5 $105.5 14.3 (8.4)
Ross Stores $395.0 $368.0 7.3 1.0
Stein Mart $104.3 $97.2 7.3 (1.9)
Target Corp. $4,128.0 $3,731.0 10.7 5.7
TJX Cos. $1,200.0 $1,100.0 6.0 2.0
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. $26,794.0 $24,778.0 8.1 0.9
Wal-Mart Stores $17,572.0 $16,639.0 5.6 0.4
Sam's Club $3,159.0 $3,032.0 4.2 3.9
International $6,063.0 $5,107.0 18.7 NA

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